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CHKISTOPHIR. 
JIZIIIL. 

CLCMINTAIIV J«Ni. 

THI lUROIN OF * WOMAN. 

HOUOHTON HirrUN COHPANV 
BtaTsii Alio tin You 



ELEMENTARY 
JANE 



BY 



RICHARD PRYCE 



TOBONTO 

McClelland and goodchild 
pMmat 



^ * ^ 



i 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



CHAPTER I 

When the silence had lasted for some moments the 
girl said again : — 

" Jane Smith, sir." 

" I know," said the agent; " I 'm thinking." 

A few seconds more were ticked of! by the dusty 
clock on the mantelpiece. Jane employed them in 
thought, too, but timidly as if she were not sure that 
she had a right to think at all. She looked at Mr. 
Paton nervously and fiddled with a button on one of 
her gloves. 

" H'm, that won't do," he said at length. 

" No, sir." 

"Ehl" 

"Isaid, 'No, sir.'" 

The agent smiled — to himself. 

"What shall we call you?" 

He was amused. She took him so seriously. 

The girl grew red. She had not a quick imagin- 
ation. The ordeal of the interview with the man who 
got people "salaried engagements" assumed, or 
threatened to assume, alarming proportions. A sud- 
den sense of loneliness possessed her. She had never 
before had to think for herself. At a thought of this 



a ELEMENTARY JaNE 

and of her mother whose death, not a month back, 
had left her alone in the world, she bit her lip, and 
the big blue eyes, the beauty of which had had their 
part in gaining for her the agent's attention and his 
tentative promise to see what he could do for her, 
filled with tears. 

"Bah, I'm only joking, dear, there's no hurry 
about that," he said. "You won't want a name at 
first I shall be seeing a gentleman to-night about a 
spectac'lar affair at the Old Kent. I 've got to find 
thirty ladies for him and p'r'aps I might get you on 
in that lot. You '11 have to work." 

" I 'm not afraid of that, sir." 

" Well, we '11 see. Look in on Monday at two-thirty." 

He pressed the knob of a hand-bell, and Jane as 
she left the dingy room heard him tell the boy who 
came in from the outer office where sat the half-dozen 
other clients, whose bold yellow hair had so much 
alarmed he- as she timidly waited among them, to 
show in Miss Alfie Le Roy. 

Jane groped her way confusedly down the dark 
staircase which she had ascended with such trepi- 
dation. The interview had been less terrible than she 
expected. Mr. Paton had spoken kindly to her. He 
had been altogether less formidable than she had 
anticipated. Still her brain was whu-ling. The play- 
bill which had adorned one of the walls in the dingy 
room, the crowded writing-table, some faded photo- 
graphs (Jane called them "photos") on the mantel- 
piece, near the dusty clock, the rug with a hole in it 



ELEMENTARY JANE 3 

before the hearth, and the place that marked the loss 
of a button upon the agent's coat, were dominant in 
the impressions left upon her. How her heart had 
beaten in the cheerless anteroom I The other girls 
had looked her up and down. She was a novice, but 
not such a novice as they thought, for had she not 
played a frog one year in the Bradford pantomime? 
That was when she was nine years old, and her father, 
who had taught her to dance and to sing, had been one 
of the stage carpenters at the house in question. After 
his death, her mother and she had drifted out of the 
theatrical atmosphere, and it was only on being left 
alone that Jane turned her thoughts to the stage. 
Mrs. Smith, a mantle-fitter before her marriage, had 
returned to her profession on becoming a widow, and 
by dint of much hard work and many self-denials 
she had contrived to leave Jane a few pounds. With 
the slender capital which these constituted, Jane tim- 
idly faced the world. In the old da3rs, during the life 
of her restless father, there had been frequent talk of 
the "boards" as her ultimate destiny, but with his 
death this ceased, and Mrs. Smith earned enough to 
allow the discussion of the girl's future to be put off 
from day to day. Jane helped at this time with needle- 
work and odd jobs of a light nature. These, how- 
ever, did not afford a means of subsistence, and 
she saw and answered Mr. Paton's advertisement. To 
her good fortune the agency chanced to be genuine, 
and she was spared the costly experience of falling 
into the clutches of a bogus firm. 



4 ELEMENTARY JANE 

The name Alfie Le Roy rang in her ears. " Miss 
Alfie Le Roy." She said it to herself again and again, 
and wondered which of the young women had an- 
swered to a name so gorgeous. Was it the girl with 
the pink gloves, or the one with powder ? Mr. Baton's 
clients had presumably the artistic temperament and 
all used powder, but of those represented one stood 
out for Jane from the rest by reason of the prodigality 
of her facial decoration. Some of the girls knew each 
other. Scraps of their talk recurred to her: Bessy 
Pwang had been engaged for a second boy at the 
Hoxton. Her brother, the one with the sandy 'air, 
wasn't up to much. The way he'd served that girl 
was something crule. It was a wonder Bessy stood 
it, being onl^ a half sister as you might say. Kitty 
Vince was doing a show at the Sultan's with her 
feller. She had luck, that woman had I The sketch 
was written for her by F. Banton, Esquire. It was a 
big dror, and you couldn't wonder with his name to 
it There was a deal in a name. 

This took Jane back to the subject of her own ; 
Jane Smith. Mr. Paton had said (and she took him 
seriously) that she could not be known as Jane Smith. 
Well, something would come, you might depend I 
Jane's spirits were rising wildly. Every yard that 
took her homewards increased her excitement She 
had broken the ice. The worst was over. She must 
find a good name, of course. There was Brown and 
there was Jones (on the spur of the moment she could 
think of no names but such as designated her own 



'ELEMENTARY 'JANE' g 

humble acquaintance). There waa Green. She knew 
a Miss Green at the pott-ofifice. There was Kerridge. 
Her landlady's name was Kerridge. Jane was not 
sure what her Christian name was, for at the end of 
the letters )ane wrote for her sometimes to the daugh- 
ter in service, she was " Your loving mother, Mrs. 
Kerridge." Jane was inclined to think it was Phoebe. 
But she did not think Phnebe Kerridge would do — 
nor Lilly, nor Mabel, nor Maud. There was Binder, 
the grocer at the comer where her mother had dealt, 
saying that you could always trust Binderses butter: 
Phoebe Binder, Lilly, Mabel, or Maud Binder ? None 
of these had the right ring. Aliie Le Roy had the re- 
quisite distinction. Bessy Pwang was vivacious, and 
even Kitty Vince was not without a sprightly charm. 
Jane lodged in a dingy South London street The 
house was one of a row of three-story buildings of 
smoky brick. A line of pots containing the withered 
remains of plants long dead stood in the window of 
the lower room. Behind them a woman was stand- 
ing, looking, at the moment of Jane's approach, up 
the street She left the window hurriedly, and a 
heavy soft-shod footfall was to be heard in the pas- 
sage before the door opened. 
" Did ye see 'im, child?" 

Jane's bright eyes and her flushed face answered her. 

" Come in and tell me all about it You 've got 

back sooner than I expected. Come by tram, I 

s'pose ? You 'ad to walk from the comer where I 

said, didn't y' ? Ah, I thought so. Well, it ain't far. 



6 ELKMBNTARY JANB 

and jrou 'aven't been gorae above hour an' a 'alf, 
'ave y' ? What did 'e lay to y*. dear ? " 

" He said first of all that there wasn't much to be 
done with novices, and he asked me il I could sing 
and dance." 

"Well, you can sing," said Mrs. Kerridge reflect- 
ively, "and yer father taught you to dance from a 
child, for that your dear mother's told me times and 
times." 

" He told me to try over something I knew," said 
Jane, "and would you believe, I couldn't think of 
anything. I did feel a sUly. He said, 'Come, you 
must know something if it's only "Home, Sweet 
Home," ' so then I thought of ' White Wings,' and 1 
sang the chorus part of that, and he said he believed 
I 'd do, with a bit of teaching." 

Jane's eyes sparkled, and she began to talk more 
rapidly. She told Mrs. Kerridge with enthusiasm of 
the thirty ladies that were to be found for the forth- 
coming production at the Old Kent, and of the pos- 
sibility of her being chosen amongst them. The future 
looked rosy, and Jane built casties in the air. Why, 
some music-hall singers made twenty and thirty 
pounds a week. 

" You shall have the nicest silk dress I can buy if 
ever I get a big sal'ry, Mrs. Kerridge, and a mantle 
the same as that one we saw that day in Oxford 
Street— you know, the one with the bronze beads." 

" Bless yer little 'eart," said Mre. Kerridge. " P'r-aps 
I shall live to see you ride in your bro'ham yet Well, 
it '11 be a proud day." 



BLBMBNTARY JANE 7 

She took the kettle off the fire aa she spoke and 
proceeded to fill the earthenware teapot. 
" You'll be glad of a drop o' tea, I d'say." 
But Jane was too much takjn up with her recent 
experiences and the vista that was opening out be- 
fore her to pay much attention to physical needs, and 
she took the cup from her friend in abstraction. 

" There was one tiling. I 've got to get a new name. 
He says Jane Smith would never do, and so I 've got 
to find one. Jenny "d do. What 's your name, Mrs. 
Kerridge? Phoebe, isn't it?" 
"That's right." 

" It 's tiie Smitii tiiat won't do," said Jane. " I shall 
have to think, shan't 1 7 " 

But Jane had no imagination, and when she got 
the engagement at tiie Old Kent Theatre to walk on 
in a procession (at twelve shillings a week) she had 
not tiiought to any purpose, and she was known on 
the salary list amongst Etiiel du Canes and Maudie 
St Aubyns and Rose de Loraines as plain (albeit ex- 
ceedingly pretty) Jane Smitii. 

The change tiierefrom to Jenny Tandem came on 
tills wise. When tiie engagement came to an end 
Jane went once more to the autocrat of the dingy 
room. After some discussion and a small and not dis- 
honest inroad upon her meagre capital, it was agreed 
tiiat Jane should learn two songs and a dance, when 
she would be qualified for an early turn at any hall 
tiiat might offer. The songs, the music and words of 
which with their exclusive rights were obtained from 



S BLBMBNTARY JANB 

the author at the modest rate of ten and tizpenee 
apiece, were duly instilled into the little singer. One 
was of the "Serio" order and the refrain ran thus: — 

" In the lane where the violete nettle. 
In the lane where the lOie* grow, 
When Jack comet back from hit veiael, 
He will meet me again, I know; 
Hand in hand we will wander together, 
For hit heart beau true, it it plain, 

On the deep blue tea 

He ii thinking of me. 
And the day when we II meet In the lane." 

Juie thought ib\» very beautiful. Her big eyes al- 
ways took a far-away expression when she hummed 
it over to herself. "Nesde" and "vessel" did not 
bother her, nor even the banal "it is plain" vex her 
soul. The sentiment of the words struck a chord that 
was already vibrating in her elementary littie heart 
A short dance expressive of nothing in particular 
followed the last verse. Jane was to wear an " accor- 
dian" pinafore, symbolical of youth and innocence 
and the country, and adapted to a quick change to 
the boy's dress which would be underneath it in readi- 
ness for her second song. In tights, and what L.r. 
Paton called a " Newmarket," Jane was far less at 
home. She did not feel a bit the " reckless Johnny " 
which she described herself. But she learnt the song 
in a certain parrot-like way. She was a guileless little 
thing, and she did not understand much that the nods 
and winks which she was taught to employ as she 
sang it were intended to suggest 



■LEMBNTARY JANE 9 

Mr. P»ton told her of the tentative turn he had 
secured for her at a little mudc-hail in Camber- 
well. 

"And new this name of yours," he laid with a 
grave smile, for hitherto he had been joldng, and, 
Jane always taking him seriously, the subject had af- 
forded him considerable amusement. 

"I can't think of anything," said Jane. "Won't 
you tell me one 7" 

Mr. Paton paced the dingy room. He went to the 
window. He had a vulgar habit of trite quotation, 
and he said: — 
"'What's in a name?'" 

Jane said, "What, sir?" but she did not mean, 
"What, indeed!" She had not caught his words, 
that was all. 

"Jane would do," he said pre--ntl>, and ignoring 
her question, as so often he did, "because you can 
make it Jenny. There 's lots of Jennys" — he threw 
up the sash— " that 's a pretty turn-out, that Quick, 
or you '11 miss it" 

Jane sped to the window and was in time to get a 
view of the high cart and sleek chestnuts. 
" One in front of the other," she said. 
" Pretty thing a tandem," said Mr. Paton. 
"Tan — ?" 

" Tandem. Have n't you heard of driving tandem I " 

" Tandem," repeated Jane as if she liked the sound 

of the word. Then she began to make futile littie ob- 

Jarvations. The red wheels looked nice, didn't they? 



lo ELEMENTARY JANE 

and the gentleman's coat was just like the one she 
was to wear in her Johnny song. 

" Ah," said Mr. Paton, " you must always be on 
the lookout for suggestions. That's as good as a 
lesson, that is. That young feller that 's just drove by 
is what you 've got to feel you 're representing when 
you sing the song. I wish we could put just a spice 
of the devil into you for it You want to be cheekier, 
you do. Think if you was one of these young swells 
with youth in your veins and money in your pockets, 
would you care a damn for anybody? — not you! 
That 's what you 've got to feel. See him swing round 
that comer?" 

Jane's mind ran on the term she had just heard. 
She said tandem was a funny word. 

" Tandem," said the agent, " tandem. It 's a good- 
sounding word. Why, there's a name for you at 
once. Jenny Tandem. What more could you want?" 

Miss Jenny Tandem! It was better than Bessy 
Pwang ; better than Kitty Vince. Jane was not sure 
that it was not even better than Alfie Le Roy. 



CHAPTER II 

It was Jenny Tandem then and not Jane Smith who 
did a nervous turn near the very end of the pro- 
gramme at the Camberwell Palace of Varieties. She 
foUowed directly upon the famous Merino Family 
and had been watching their last feats (they were 
acrobats) from the wings, with a thumping heart 

It nearly thumped its way into her mouth when 
she heard the chairman (the Camberwell Palace of 
Varieties clings to a chairman even now I) strike the 
m^ble of the table at which he sat, with his mallet, 
and say loudly : — 

"Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Jenny Tandem wUl 
appear next." 

The announcement was not received with any rap- 
turous applause. The rat-tat-tat-tat of the chair- 
mans mallet made a mechanical pretence of enthu- 
siasm intended, it would seem, to lead the audience 
into clapping, as a bird-organ is played to bullfinches 
to induce them to pipe. The hour was getting late. 
There were but two more items upon the programme. 
A few people here and there had begun to move, but 
for the most part the patrons of the Camberwell 
Palace of Varieties liked the full worth of their 
money and the hall was not yet appreciably emptier. 
Jane of the thumping heart (Miss Tandem of the 
bUls) found It m her to wish that her turn had come 



la ELEMENTARY JANE 

on at the other end of the evening and was safely 
over. The embryo artists played here as elsewhere 
to the possible disturbance of a filling or an empty- 
ing house. Of the two places on the programme, the 
latter and later had the advantage. Nevertheless, 
when Jane knew that her moment was come, she felt 
she would willingly relinquish the better position to 
know that her ordeal was behind her instead of 
ahead. 

She trembled painfully for a moment Mr. Paton 
was in one of the two dingy boxes hung with tawdry 
lace that flanked the stage. He had iaken the trouble 
to come and see how she would acquit herself. It 
was very kind of him, but the knowledge that he 
was there increased tenfold her nervousness. The 
orchestra was playing the opening bars of her first 
song. The second time they were played she would 
have to run on. Would she have the courage? What 
if she broke down 7 The drum in the band made the 
tune sound nice, did n't it? It would all be over soon, 
anyway, and she would go home with Mrs. Kerridge. 
When she got home she would have succeeded or 
failed. How strange it was ! A flying thought of her 
mother came to her. She closed her eyes for a mo- 
ment It was now or never. It was now . . . 

At the chairman's announcement the occupants of 
a certain seat in the body of the hall exchanged rapid 
glances. The group consisted of an elderly woman 
with a very pink face and a rusty crfipe bonnet ; a 
young woman, a young man, and a little boy of six 



ELEMENTARY JANE 13 

or seven who was called 'Any, it would seem, and 
who wore a suit of crimson plush of the kind known 
as Little Lord Fauntleroy, and had a cap with a 
shining peak. These people had displayed a certain 
suppressed excitement all the evening. 

Mrs. Kerridg with the pink face now whispered 
to her niece Mrs. Atwell that she was " come overall 
of a heat." 

The young man, the niece's husband, leant across 
his wife to deliver himself of " What say?" 

"Aunt's nervous. I tell her it'll be all rieht 
Won't it, Joe?" 

" I 'm tremblin' fit to make the bench shake," Mrs. 
Kerridge whispered. 

Joe said that Miss Smith sang "a treat," he con- 
sidered, and prophesied success. He called his wife's 
attention to their little son, who was e^i^ng a biscuit 
desultorily and with much crumbling, and who 
showed a disposition now to wriggle from one lap 
to another. 

"Sit still, 'Any, there's a dear. You 'U see better 
where you are. Look at 'ow you're messin' your 
kike all over auntie's dress. Say, •! beg pardon, 
auntie,' " 

" Tsh I There she is ! " said Mrs. Kerridge. " Well I 
1 would n't 'a' believed I" 

Jane had made her appearance. 

She looked very fresh, and sweet, and childish. If 
her talent was open to question and she originated 
nothing, she did all tijat she had been taught very cred- 



m 



14 ELEMENYARY JANE 

jtably. Fifty gfirls were singing the same sort of song, 
if not (as I tliinlc) in die same sort of way, about 
London ; but, as slie swayed to the waltz-time of the 
refrain, the tune being reminiscent of a hundred and 
one others, the audience caught it up, and the last 
time they sang it for her : — 

" On the deep blue aea 
He is thinkin' of me, 
An' the d'y when we '11 meet in the line." 

Her second song did not take quite so well. To 
make it go was wanted all that she lacked. But 
"The Lane where the Violets nestle" had put the 
house in good temper, and so Jenny Tandem had her 
uttle success. 

Mr. Paton met her at the wings as she came off 

"You '11 do," he said. 

" Oh, sir." 

"You '11 do." 

He button-holed the manager, with whom he 
seemed to be on friendly terms. 

Jane slipped away anu changed her dress. Her 
heart was still beating fast, but for very different rea- 
sons than those which had set it a-beating a few min- 
utes since. 

Mr. Paton and the manager were waiting for her 
when she emerged in mufti from the little dressing 
cubicle at the side of the stage. 

" We 've something to sf.y to you — me and Mr. 
Isaacs," said the agent. "I've been able to do a 
stroke of business for you. Miss Tandem." 



ELEMENTARY JANE 15 

Jane flushed. 

Before she left the hall her engagement had been 
extended to five weeks. 

Mrs. Kerridge meanwhile, her anxiety over, had 
become expansive. It was not many moments before 
every one who sat near knew of her proud connec- 
tion witii the singer. For the benefit of all who cared 
to listen she became biographical. She addressed her 
conversation to her niece and looked round occasion- 
ally to observe the interest of outsiders. Her niece 
Mrs. Atwell supplied all the proper questions and 
said, "Just fancy!" or "Only to think! " at intervals. 
"•Ear that, 'Any? She wasn't much older than 
you when she played in the pantomime at Bradford. 
You've seen a pantomime, 'ave n't-cher ? Why, of 
course you 'ave — and been to the theatre again and 
again. You've seen Miss Tandem act too." She 
jogged his memory. "At the Old Kent, that piece 
was. You know — where all those young ladies come 
in witii the pretty flowers. Kind auntie took you, 
did n't she, like she 'as to-night? Say 'Thank you 
auntie.'" 

"'Er po'r mothe: didn't seem to fancy the stage," 
proceeded Mrs. Kerridge. "Such a nice-spoken lady 
she was. She 'd a goodish bit put by, y' know. You 
could 'a' seen that by 'er fewn'ral. Me an' po'r Miss 
Tandem an' her two cc isins from 'Ighb'ry was in tiie 
first carriage. An' you an' Joe an' little 'Arry here 
was in the second, wasn't you?" 
"Yes. You remember that, 'Arry, don't you? It 



16 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



was a lovely ride, wasn't it? Auntie gave you an 
'an'kerchief with a black border, didr't she? Want 
to go to 'is dadda? Little fidget I 'Ere, take 'im Jow. 
I never see such a child to worry." 

Mrs. Kerridge gave a supper-party in honour of 
Jane's dibut. Thereat Jane, flushed and pale by turns, 
excited and pensive, made an interesting and, in her 
black dress (she was still in mourning), pathetic little 
heroine of the hour. The fare was humble. There 
were pork chops ('Arry was seriously indisposed in 
the morning), a cold apple tart, and a piece of Amer- 
ican cheese (from " Binderses "). There was stout to 
drink. 

Mr. Atwell proposed Jane's health. He said : — 

" It gives me great pleasure. Miss Smith, — I sh luld 
say Tandem, — on beyarf of the ladies and of my- 
self—" 

His wife interrupted him. 

" Don't forget 'Arry, Jow. You ought to 'a* said 
'and the gendemen,' did n't 'e ? There 's 'Arty. You 're 
one of the gendemen, my precious, ain't -cher, like /r 
dadda? Want a bit more cheese? Wait till dadda 's 
finished, then." 

Mr. Atwell accepted the an.endment. 

" On beyarf of the ladies and the gendemen — " 

"Say, "Ear, 'ear,"ArryI" 

A fork was thrust into 'Arry's hand, and he was 
shown how to thump with the handle of it on the 
table— an accomplishment which he acquired with 
fearful alacrity. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 17 

" On beyari I would say of the ladies " (Mr. AtweU 
bowed to Mrs. Kerridge and his wife) "and the gen- 
tlemen " (he bowed to ' Arry who thumped again and 
said ' 'Ear, 'ear,' shrilly) "to propose the 'ealth of one 
who is and 'as always been the pride of her friends, 
as I 'ope she will be of the profession in which she 
has this night made so fe-fe-fecil:ous— I should say 
felidous — " 

"No, felicitous," said Mrs. Atwell, jogging his 
elbow. 

"Eh?— so fe-fe-felicitous a beginning. May she 
go on from success to success, from triumph to tri- 
umph. Ladies and gentlemen, health and 'appiness 
to Miss Tandem." 

" 'Ear, 'ear," said Mrs. Kerridge and Mis. AtweU. 
" 'Ear, 'ear," cried 'Any, and made the plates tattle. 
Glasses were raised. 
" Miss Tandem 1 " said all together. 
Jane's heart was very hill, and unexpectedly she 
burst into tears. She was so happy, she said. 'Arry 
was made to return thanks for her. Mis. Atwell 
caught him on her knee. 'Arry wriggled to be free. 
"Oh," said Mrs. Atwell, "'Arry'U never have it 
said as he would n't oblige a lady. Come, come, you 
ain't shy, you know. Auntie's often 'eard you recite 
•The Fireman's Child.' She knows you ain't shy. 
'Ere, I '11 whisper to you what you 've got to say, 
see? 'Mr. Chairman,' say, 'and ladies,' that's right, 
now bow to aunt (you can't bow to me, see, because 
you 're sittin' on my lap). ' Mr. Chairman and ladies, 



i8 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



I beg to return thanks in the name of Miss Tandem, 
coupled with another toast—' " 

"That's not the way," roared Mr. AtweU, whose 
laughter could be boisterous on occasion. 

"Let us alone, Jow. You mind y'r own, see? 'Arry's 
getting on very nice. ' Coupled with another toast : 
Mrs. Kerridge and the ladies ! ' " 

Jane laughed through her tears. Mrs. Kerridge's 
laughter was pitched in a high key. 

"Auntie for a speech," cried Mrs. Atwell. 

"Auntie for a speech," echoed 'Arry. 

Bui Mrs. Kerridge only said, " Oh dear I oh dear I " 
and held her sides. 

Long after the Atwells had gone home, and Mrs. 
Kerridge had unfolded the chair-bc* in the room 
where hung still the fumes of the recent meal, J-^ne 
sat at h. window at the top of the house, looking 
out at as jiuch of London as she could see. This wa«( 
not as inconsiderable a portion as might have beer, 
expected in a neighbourhood so thickly populated, 
for behind Little Petwell Street (Jane's room was at 
the back of the house) lay a broad strip of untidy 
ground, the property, I believe, of a minor, and await- 
ing his majority to be turned to account. No build- 
ing, then, nearer than the warehouses that flanked 
the waterside, interposed to obstruct her view, and 
through gaps Jane could see the river itself. 

The night was clear and generously light. Shining 
surfaces, the water, a slated roof, the metal on the 
spire of a church, were touched with silver. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 19 

Jane thought of her mother and wondered where 
she was. Was Heaven in one of those stars that were 
twtokling up there over London ? Did she Jcnow that 
Jenny Tandem, who had had a "success" to-night at 
the Camberwell Palace of Varieties, was her daugh- 
ter—the Jane she had loved so well and for whom 
she had worked so hard? Instances of her mother's 
self-denial recurred to her— the days when she had 
gone ailing to her work, many a long tramp to save 
an omnibus fare, many an hour taken out ol the hours 
of rest to work at home with Jane. . . . 

" Oh, mother," Jane said under her breath, and 
looked up at one star of special brightness, " I don't 
think I ever knew." 
The star glistened as if in response. 
But it was a night for rejoicing. That was why 
Jane cried in the first instance. Since her mother 
was taken from her, she had not thought ever to be 
so happy. The future seemed assured. If only her 
mother could know, and share this happiness with 
her. If what had happened to-night (she built, you 
see, upon the slender foundations of such success as 
was represented by the applause of a little Surrey-" 
side house and a resultant five-weeks' engagement at 
twenty-five shillings a week I) had happened sooner, 
how greatly she might have lessened her mother's 
burden I When things wore at their best she had 
never earned more than ten shillings in any single 
week by her needlework, and here were twenty-five 
for six days of twelve minutes or so apiece. To be 



•0' BLBMBNTARY JAM 

•ure she would have to work. Mr. Pftton nid her 
dance wanted a great deal of time spent on h— 
even the one little dance she had "learnt" Out of 
her salary she would have to pay for her lessons and 
always put by something for the purchase of new 
songs. That did not leave much upon which to keep 
and clothe herself. But she would "manage," and 
u>e great, great thing was that she had made a start 
Jane went to bed at length, but for nearly an hour 
her excitement kept sleep from her eyes. She saw 
continually the footlights and the faces beyond. She 

tF^A ""•"' °' •'*' °^" »°«« "^g in her ears. 
The drum part "in the symphony (Jane did not caU 
It symphony I) was veiy nice. It was the drum that 
somehow nerved her to run on after the chairman 
Bad made his announcement and the symphony had 
been played twice. Singing mentally (and, did she 
toow It, giving God thanks in a manner) Jane feU 

"On the deep blue ten 
He to thinking of me, 
And the day when we 'II meet in the lane." 

The words and the throbbing waltz tune ran even 
through her dreams. 



CHAPTER III 

NiGHTLv now at a certain hour Jane went to Cam- 
berwell. She looked forward to her "turn" all day 
long, and experienced a nervous shrinking from the 
ordeal at the moment immediately preceding her 
appearance. At this moment, for the first week at 
least, her trepidation was scarcely less complete than 
at her initial performance, but the drum in the orches- 
tra never failed to encourage her, and once she was 
singing the refrain of her song, and the audience 
showed a disposition to join in, her fears left her. 
Then it was that there began for her the exquisite 
exhilaration that gradually possessed her as voice 
encouraged by voice took up the words. 

She led the swinging chorus, grudg^ing the passing 
of each verse as it brought her nearer to the end of 
her short reign. For a few minutes Jane felt like one 
in the heart of life, and once for a strange space the 
dingy little hall was transformed for her into a gar- 
den of languorous flowers whose heads swayed and 
rocked. She was the breeze that made them sway 
and rock in unison. Here a flower — in a " billycock" 
—lent accent to his swapng by marking time with a 
pipe taken from between the lips ; there the nodding 
feathers on the hat of a factory flower caught Jane's 
eye and seemed to point the swaying of all the flow- 
ers that swayed. That was a delicious moment of 



M lUMBNTARY JANS 

exultation. The chann of it Jane never forgot Per- 
hapa for that inatant Jane of the mediocre talent had 
a veritable inkling of the spell and the power of art 

She was very happy. Every ni|;ht, her turn fin- 
ished, left her impatient for the next She was living 
in a dream. The drum in the orchestra had a pert in 
it Presendy, the man who played the drum. She be- 
came conscious that his eyes were never ott her face 
when she was on the stage, and she liked the eyes 
of the man who played the drum. It was some days 
before she knew that she had remarked them at all ; 
then one night as she sang, having often met them 
before, she met them and faltered. 

Her fellow-artists made friends with her. Nelly 
Chingford, a "serio," confided to her the whole and 
intimate story of her life. It was not an unchequered 
life. Jane wondered how to reconcile the apparent 
goodness of heart of the narrator with certain inci- 
dents in the narrative. 

" You '11 see life at tiie haUs," Miss Chingford said. 
" I 've been in the profes 'on a good many years and 
I 've seen some. I daresay you would n't thinl I was 
twenty-eight?" 

Jane had taken Miss Chingford for considerably 
more and said " No," with truth. 

" And yet I 've had my troubles too. But I 've been 
wonderfully lucky in getting engagements. The pub- 
lic won't do without me. I 've got cheek, you see, 
and that 's what they like. It 's cheek you want, dear, 
if you don't mind me saying so." 



BLBMBNTARY JANE 



•3 



*• Mr. PKton said that, too," laid Jane humbly. 

"Ah, he knows," said Miss Chingford, "thougrh 
he's not up to much — not as an ag;ent Swindon 
and Vans are my people. They've got all the best 
stars. Yes, it seems a pity you haven't got a bit 
more cheek, for your legs seem wasted on you, don't 
they? Good legs, and I call yours a very pretty pair, 
ain't a bit of use unless you 've got cheek. They 're 
like soda without the spirit That first song of youra, 
that 's your sort You stick to that." 

"I like it best," said Jane. 

" You will till you know men better. They '11 all 
tell you the same thing — you're the only girl and 
all that Well, I believe they think so too at the 
time. But there 's < the deep blue sea ' that you sing 
atx)ut, and we can't cross it to find out what 's on 
the other side, eh ? We hug to ourselves the thought 
of ' the day when we '11 meet in the lane,' and per- 
haps there 's lanes on the other side, too, and women 
as silly as we are, hugging the same thought there. 
And if there is n't to-day there will be to-monow, 
and there'll come a time when we shall know, see? 
Then — oh, I 've been there — the thought turns into 
a knife or a flame and we hug it still, though it stabs 
or bums us." 

Jane looked at the speaker with surprise. She had 
not suspected the existence of much heart in the singer 
of "Another young lady and me." 

Sensitiveness with the rendering (and Miss Ching- 
ford's rendering I) of "Billingsgate Bessie, the girl 



04 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



IP' 
ill 



Pi 
III 



who knew Words" seemed incompatible. Tender- 
ness with the presence in her repertory of "Since 
I 've lived in London " I But Jane had yet to learn 
many things. 

Thenceforward she regarded the buxom, sturdy 
woman with some wonder, and experienced a mo- 
mentary sorrow when Miss Chingford convulsed the 
house with — what she stopped short of saying in her 
patter. A love for her sprang up in Jane's warm heart 
She talked to Mrs. Kerridge of her by the hour ; of 
Lilla, too, of the " ' Azardous wire act "; of the Famous 
Merino Family; of Mr. Isaacs, the manager; of the 
stage-door keeper who alwa)rs said "Good-evening, 
miss " ; but she never spoke of the drum. 

Mrs. Kerridge in the absence of any one upon whose 
consideration the welfare of Jane had a closer claim, 
constituted herself the girl's adviser and guardian. 
The cousins (at "'Ighb'ry"), who had attended Mrs. 
Smith's funeral, had troubled themselves no further 
about their relation. They were maiden ladies who 
kept a small shop of what Jane (trying to describe 
after a solitary visit thereto) called religious station- 
ery. Its orderly window proclaimed it a D6p6t of 
the Tract Society. Illuminated texts. Bibles, prayer- 
books, church services, hymn-books, books of ser- 
mons and devotion, and books " suitable for prizes " 
were amongst its wares. Its proprietors had never 
been proud of the connection of their kinswoman, 
Jane's mother, indirect though it was, with the stage, 
and Jane knew they would not regari her own adop- 



ELEMENTARY JANE as 

tion of music-hajr ringing as a profession with any 
sympathy or ipprova!. She troubled not Highbury, 
then, nor Hif iib .-ry her. Mrs. Kerridge, therefore, in 
her capacity oi counsellor felt that it devolved upon 
her to issue to the little singer certain warnings. 

She would have Jane beware of young — yes, and 
elderly, perhaps indeed especially elderly —gentle- 
men. As for Lords — well I Let her not believe a 
word they said (Jane was reminded of Miss Ching- 
ford). They hung, Mrs. Kerridge had read or been 
told, about stage-doors, and their object was to " be- 
tray" poor girls. 

But Jane was not much bothered by Lords. She 
thought it must be West End halls that they haunted, 
and said so. 

"Ah, I daresay," said Mrs. Kerridge. 

She was washing clothes, and she wrung her hands 
free of soap.«uds and wiped them on her apron. She 
filled the kettle and put it on the fire and then went 
back to her tub. Jane leant against the table watch- 
ing her with an absent expression. She had offered 
to help, but there was not much to do. 

" West End halls," repeated Mrs. Kerridge. " Very 
likely. Still," she added presently, "it is but right to 
put y on y'r guard." 

The room was hung across with lines. In an hour's 
time it would be hot with the steam of drying linen. 
But if her home was in a dingy South London street, 
her best friend her landlady who washed at home, her 
smart relations religious stationers, and her name 



ill 



06 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



jane Smith ; if moreover she was quite unassailed by 
Lords or other would-be lovers, had she not the 
exquisite knowledge that she was Jenny Tandem 
(in print upon a programme) and that for a few 
minutes every night she had the swaying of a 
house? 

She kissed Mrs. Kerridge suddenly, diving under 
the clothes-lines to get to her. 

" Bless the child, whyl" 

" I don't know ; every one is so good to me and I 
am so happy." 

So spoke Jane in these early days of delicious ex- 
citement. In retrospect Jane dated the beginning of 
her life's story from the evening of the day on which 
she had watched Mrs. Kerridge at her washing. That 
night she had her first adventure. It came about in 
this wise : — 

The eldest of the Merino Family was a young man 
of singular beauty. He was known as Curley, and, 
in a community that did not ask for more than su- 
perficial attractions, he was a favourite generally. 
Agility strengthened by inventiveness (in which his 
family shared) caused a good deal to be expected of 
him. He was supple as a serpent, and, the other two 
boys of the troupe wearing cotton tights, his lithe 
and shapely limbs were deemed worthy of silk. He 
was conscious of being well-favoured, which was 
perhaps excusable, but he understood contrast where 
others did not, and Jane used to feel sorry for his 
younger brother, Perky, a bony lad (albeit of con- 



ELEMENTARY JANE rj 

siderable talent, and notable for a certain writhing 
quality m his contortions, for his somersaults, and 
particularly for an arrested somersault embodying a 
curious backward leap from feet to hands and from 
hands to feet), when Curley in his insolent bravery of 
form and face stood beside him. 

Jane thought once that Curiey bullied Perky, but 
It was difficult to reconcile aught that was not charm- 
ing with Curiey's appearance, and you could n't help 
liking anything so beguiling. 

Now Curiey had taken to paying Jane attentions 
that she did not suspect of being attentions at all. 
She mistook them for sweets. Chocolate was the de- 
licacy he offered her. Jane, child enough to like it, 
accepted it without misgiving. Mrs. Kerridge had 
duly warned her to beware of taking presents from 
gendemen, on which account Jane had timialy re- 
hised the flower Mr. C. H. Bertram ("Girls of the 
Chorus" his great song, and a very fine gentieman 
indeed) took from his coat to present to her. But if 
Curiey was nearly twenty, he looked about sixteen 
Jane knew what "gentleman" meant in its relative 
connection as well as Mrs. Kerridge herself. Mr. 
Isaacs the manager came under the head of it; so 
did the shopboys in the stalls who sang her chorus 
for her and shouted " Bray vo, Jenny I " So did any 
one who wanted to stand you drinks at the bar. But 
Curiey — well, it never occurred to her. 

That night he said he would walk part of the way 
home with her. He had changed from his perform- 



a8 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



■ill 



ing dress to a suit of serge that he habitually wore. 
His eyes were shining. 

The boy and the girl left the music-hall together. 
He said he was hungry and suggested some supper, 
but Jane demurred. She wanted to get home, she 
said. 

" Oh, you might," he urged, " when I ask you. It's 
exhausting work doing my show, I tell you. Come, 
it won't take five minutes, and I know a short cut 
that '11 make up for the time." 

Jane suffered herself to be persuaded. They entered 
a restaurant, and Curley ordered a modest but suf- 
ficiently substantial repast He called for beer. Jane, 
perceiving that he was ordering for her as well, said 
hurriedly that she would drink water. 

" Better have beer," he said. 

Jane shook her head. 

"A drop of stout?" 

" Please, I'd rather have water." 

" I won't let you." 

" Lemonade, then." 

He accepted the compromise. 

Curley's face flushed presentiy and he looked 
handsomer tfian ever. Jane kept meeting his spark- 
ling, laughing eyes, and sometimes, without knowing 
why, she felt impelled to look away quickly. 

" It's our last night at Camberwell," he said. 

Jane knew that. 

"Are you sorry we're going?" 

"Yes. But you've got two halls after to-night, 



ELEMENTARY JANE 09 

haven't you? I forget which Madame Merino said 
they were." 

" Rawlinses and the Mocha. After that I hope we 
shall get West. I ought to have been West a year 
ago. I shall be heard of some day ; I mean to be." 

Jane crumbled her bread. 

" You have n't said you 're sorry," he said. 

"Yes, I have." 

" Not properly." 

"Well, I am. Please, I must be getting home. It's 
late." 

"All right." 

Jane wanted to pay her share, and produced a 
timid purse. 

He laughed. 

" Oh, no," he said. " This is my go, see. Sure you 
won't have an}rthing else ? " 

He paid and they left the eating-house. ' 

"You'll be home in no time. No, not that way. I 
said I knew a quicker. Take my arm." 

But Jane preferred to walk without his support 

" All right," he said again, and laughed pleasantly.. 

They crossed the road, and, taking a side street 
at his guiding, came to a narrow passage between 
wooden hoardings. On each side were buildings in 
course of erection. They had walked a few yards in 
silence, their footsteps echoing in the channel, when 
Curley said, — 

" Oh, yes, you '11 take my arm." 

" No," said Jane. " What for? " 



30 ELEMENTARY JANE 

" Yes, you wiU — or I '11 take yours, that 'U be bet- 
ter." 

He pressed it as he spoke. At his touch Jane 
started and drew back. She did not know why such 
a feeling of potential alarm came over her. She was 
not frightened yet, but she knew she was going to be 
frightened. 

" There 's not room to walk like that," she said, 
trying to make her voice sound steady. 
" Why, there 's more room." 
" No, look, you "re taking all the path." 
She brushed against the planks of the hoarding. 
Then she stood still and looked at him. 

" I don't like this way," she said ; " I '11 go back 
and go the other. Let me pass, please." 
He blocked her way. 

" You must say good-bye to me, then. I shan't see 
you again perhaps for a long time. You said I might 
walk home witii you. I'm not going to let you do 
me out of my walk for nothing." 

"I'd rather go alone. Oh, please let me go. It's 
getting late and — and Mrs. Kerridge will be in a 
state, and let me pass, please." 
"When you've said good-bye." 
" Good-bye. Now, please." 
" Not like that." 

Jane looked up the passage and gauged her chance 
of escapmg him by running. He guessed her intention. 
" It 'd be no use. I 'm as quick as they make 'em. 
Don't be a little sUly. What are you afraid of?" 



ELEMENTARY JANE 31 

"I'm not afraid," said Jane. "I don't like tliis 
passage, that 's all. Let's go the other way. You can 
walk with me then if you want to." 

"I'll walk with you this way." 

" You shan't. I won't." 

"What are you afraid of?" he said again. " Not 
of me, just because I like you so weU ? Oh, I like 
you, I like you. You 're ten times prettier than any 
one I 've ever liked before." 

He hinted to her of successes he had had in affairs 
of the heart and affairs that were not of the heart 
She looked at him again and saw the dangerous at- 
traction of his comeliness, and knew that he was not 
telhng her lies. That made him terrible. She looked 
about her again. A few yards further the hoarding 
at one side broke for an interval of six feet or so a 
bar being across the gap, and there seemed to be kn 
open space behind it. There would probably be an 
exit to the street at the further side of this. 
" You're not going to run," Curley said. 
He caught her hand and held it. She knew that if 
she lost her wits the next few moments would go 
hard with her. His hand on her turned her hot and 
cold. She wrenched herself free of it, but he caught 
her coat, and feeling herself a prisoner she straight- 
way lost the self-control that might have protected 
her. 

A frenzy possessed Jane of tlie timid mien and the 
gentle temperament. She got her hands free, and 
with them held his face away from hers. He was 



3a ELEMBNTARY JANE 

laughing stiU. She was distorting his features by the 
pressure of her palms and fingers against his cheeks, 
so that his lips were stretched to a leer and his eyes 
were made long like the eyes of a Chinaman. Even 
so she could not make him look ugly. 

With a sudden ducking of his supple body he re- 
leased himself from her and caught her by the waist 
Jane, straining her muscles, threw him against the 
wood behind him. He pulled her with him, and tiien 
righted himself like a vessel. 

" What 's the good of fighting with me?" he said 
quietly; "and what do you think you're fiehtine 
for?" * * 

" Let me go." 

" When I 've kissed you." \ 

"You shan't kiss me." 

"Do you tiiink I could n't tiiis moment ?" 

A word or two of reasoning here and Jane might 
have found herself free, but, instead, she began to 
struggle afresh. She lashed her fury, which might 
have spent itself in physical weakness, into life anew 
The cries which, from pride, she had restrained 
hitiierto, broke from her. Then it was tiiat for tiie 
first time sometiiing that was brutal leapt into Cur- 
ley's eyes. He exerted his strength and took the kiss 
he demanded, and anodier, and anotiier, holding her 
powerless and close against him. His moutii seemed 
to sear hers. Then he vaulted lightiy over the bar 
and disappeared. ^ 



II ill 

iji 

iiil 



CHAPTER IV 

THEN Jane burst into tears. She sobbed convulsively, 
her breast heaving and her shoulders with it She 
coidd not recover herself at once, and she turned 
pardy round, and wiUi her forehead against the 
hoarding cried like a child. One hand hung by her 
side, the other covered her eyes. She did not hear 
footsteps coming towards her, nor realize the ap- 
proach of any one till she heard herself addressed. 
"Hullo I What 'sup?" 
Jane started and drew closer to the hoardine 
"What's the matter?" 
Jane shook her head, but did not answer. 
The speaker, a young man, looked at her for a 
moment and began to move on. He looked back 
Perhaps her black dress had its part in deciding him 
not to take a rebuff, perhaps something that was 
pathetic m her attitude, or even in the hand that 
hung at her side. 

"You're in some trouble," he said gentiy. "I'm 
a stranger to you, I know, but if I could do anv- 
thmg ..." ' 

He came near and picked up her hat and began 
to dust it •* 

"Why . . . it's Miss Tandem I" he said 
the dra^''^ '°"°*^ ^** ^"^ ^^ °^ '''*° P'^y*^ 



34 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



They itood facing each other for a second or two 
in silence. Tears were standing in Jane's eyes. Her 
breathing was still interrupted by convulsive indraw- 
ings which caused her bosom to rise and hll spas- 
modically. She would not trust her voice. 

She took her hat from his hand and tried to see to 
bend it into shape, but the tears that were swelling 
before her pupils distorted her vision. She himbled 
for her pocket and in the tumult of her nerves could 
not find it, and wipfed her eyes with the back of her 
hand. He pulled a handkerchief from his own pocket 
and gave it to her. 

"It's all right," she said incoherendy, "I— I've 
got one, only I can't find it. I 'm stupid." 

She took his handkerchief, however, as she spoke, 
and dried the tears from her face. 

There was dust on her black skirt, and he knelt 
and began to brush it oflf gendy. 

"I . . . I'm — Thank you, there 's your handker- 
chief. I must look a sight Thank you, it doesn't 
matter. It'll all brush off at home. Why, my hair's 
comin' down." 

She put her hands to her head to gauge its dis- 
order. Her eyes filled with tears again, and she made 
another effort to find her pocket and succeeded. She 
turned to the hoarding again and began to sob. 

" Oh," said the drum, "don't cry. What b it, Miss 
Tandem? Can I do anjrthing? I can't bear to see 
you cry." 

" I'm a silly," Jane said, and her poor stupid little 



BLEMBNTARY JANE 35 

phrases didn't seem vulgar or commonplace to the 
drum. " I ought to be ashamed. I shall— be all right 
in a minute. I 've had a fright I can't tell you . . . 
You 're one of the gentlemen in the orchestra, aren't 
you ? " 

" Don't cry, Miss Tandem. It '11 all come right, 
whatever it was. Won't you put your hat on? 
You 'U catch cold with your head uncovered aU this 
time." 

He took her hat from her as he spoke, and with 
no clumsy touch bent the brim back to its normal 
form and smoothed out the black bows. 

" It's very good.of you," Jane said. 

She dried her eyes once more, and with a few deft 
movements of her fingers arranged her hair securely. 
She put on her hat 

He saw that her coat was torn a littie at the sleeve. 
There was a moment of indecision. 

" I '11 go now," Jane said. She was wondering what 
he thought Some explanation was due, not so much 
to him as to herself, but she could not speak of 
Curley. 

She was very pale. 

" You don't look well, Miss Tandem. I 'd like to 
ask you if I might go a bit of the way with you, but 
I don't know how you 'd take it" 

He saw something on the ground at his feet 

'• If you are going in the same direction." 

" It would n't matter about that" 

He stooped and picked up a scarL 



3« BUMBNTARY JANB 

" It thb youi. ? " he Mid, «,d Mw that it wa. not 
It WM a «,uare of red sUlc that Curiey used to wrap 

round hit throat after his perfonnance ^ 

" It's not mine," Jane said. 

initial. The scarf was a gift to the young acrobat 
from one of the girls he had liked, and\is SaS^ w^ 
elaborately embroidered upon it 

J^Ay'T^^^ *'• ^ *'"•'•" J*"« "'*»■ A colour 
had^rfaen to her face. "I Icnow whose it is. I can 

She broke off in embarrassment 
kto her She turned her face from him in fresh dis- 

^Tw t'' •""** ^"^ ^'"^^^ '° herhumUiation. 
Somethmg that seemed grim and unpitying in the 
blank fron they presented to her threw her back 
upon herself. She hated them exceedinirlv 

'• Oh," she said. " let us go." 

She shuddered 

" Yes," he said, " let us go." 

They began to walk side by side down the pass- 

!^hI r ^"^f*^ ^'° " '"^' •*'*'«' *«nce into 
a wide thoroughfare. The drum talked meanwhile, 
and Jane was silent He had a nice tact, and lane 
who would probably have said, "What's that?" i} 
you had spoken of tact to her, was very grateful to 

ties and of the "profession" generally. When he 



BLBMENTARY JANB 37 

•poke of Jans'* own song and praised it, tlie little 
singer found her tongue. 

"Oil, do you think it's good?" she said eagerly. 
" You don't know how frightened I was at first I do 
want to get on. I can't sing my second song a bit, 
I know, but I like the other one, and everybody 's 
been very kind to me. I 've been so happy till to- 
night, and now . . ." 

"Now?" 

" I don't know what you must think of me." 

He touched the scarf she was carrying. 

" Has he been annoying you ? " 

Jane could not help it : she told the whole story. 

" It was dreadful. If you 'd only come sooner, or 
anybody 'd come— but I 'd rather it had been you. 
I shall never feel my face the same again." 

The drum heard in silence, but his expression had 
changed as he listened. A sudden recollection of 
Curley's beauty flashed across Jane, and her heart 
misgave her. 

• " Perhaps he did n't mean any harm," she said. " I 
believe it would have been all right if I had n't been 
silly. He's only a boy, is he?" 

" He 's old enough to be answerable for his actions." 

" You won't tell any one. I 'm so ashamed." 

" You can trust me." 

" I know I can." 

They looked at each other. 

" 1 think you play the drum beautifully," Jane said 
then. 



ill! 



38 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



He laughed — looking first to see if she were seri- 
ous. 

"Is n't it very difficult?" 

" It 's a knack. There 's not much art in it I teach 
the violin in the daytime. The drum is only tempor- 
ary. I 'm waiting for a vacancy in the fiddles. One 
of the men is going this month and I am to have his 
place. I want to get on, too." 
He paused. 

" Lately I 've wanted to get on more than ever." 
"Why lately?" 

"Something that has come into my life has made 
me want to. One must have something to work for 
in this world." 
"What are you working for now?" 
"A dream, perhaps." 

Jane did not understand. She looked doubtful for a 
moment, but did not question him further. It seemed 
quite natural that presentiy she should be talking to 
him of her mother. 

^ "She hasn't been dead six months," Jane said. 
"That's who I am in mourning for. The mourning 
doesn't mean much, though, does it? It's what you 
feel inside, and there isn't an hour of the day that I 
don't think of mother. Oh, you don't know how good 
she was." 
" She must have been very happy." 
"Why? "asked Jane. 

But he knew that her ingenuousness was native 
" To have had your affection, I meant" 



ELEMENTARY JANE ^ 

There was sUence for a few moments. The noise 
of the traffic seemed to assert itself suddenly. Coster- 
mongers were shouting the remnant of their wares. 
There were a great many butchers' shops, and the 
meat was very red. 

"It makes me frightened," Jane said, "to think of 
the killmg. It is kiUing, and killing, and killing." 

She shuddered and looked away from the shop 
that had caught her eye. 

" Do you know that?" he said quickly, and seemed 
to mean, " You, too ? " also, he spoke as if he thought 
painful knowledge should have been kept from her. 

"I try to forget, just as I shaU try to forget what 
has happened to-night" 

" Can you forget things ? " 

" I can put them away from me. I don't really for- 
get them." ' 

"If I could have prevented what happened to- 
night!" 

" Oh, it does n't matter. I was n't hurt, I was only 
frightened, and — and ashamed. Would you mind 
teUing me what your name is. Mine's Jane Smith 
really, but Mr. Paton said that wouldn't do. He's 
my agent, you know. He thought of Tandem for me, 
and I think it 's a nice name, don't you ? " 

"I thought it wasn't your real name." 

"Don't you like it?" 

"Yes, but — » 

"But what?" 

"I think I like your own name best." 



lit 



40 ELEMENTARY JANE 

"Jane Smith?" 

Jane's face fell. She was disappointed and did not 
know why. 

" It 's simple, that's why I like it Tandem seems 
to go with your second song — the one you said you 
did n't care for." 

Jane related the circumstances of the adopting of 
the name. 

" I thought it was a nice name," she said when she 
had done. " It was so difficult to find one." 

She took a few steps in silence, waiting for some 
conunent upon his part 

"You haven't told me yours," she said when he 
did not speak. He was watching her and absorbed 
in his own thoughts, which were of her and Curley 
Merino. 

" Michael Seaward." 

"That's a nice name," said Jane, and then she 
blushed as she remembered that to say this was to 
be very personal. 

" 1 must say good-night now," she said rather hur- 
riedly. " I get a tram here at the comer. Good-night, 
Mr. Seaward, and thank you very much for taking 
care of me." 

" Let me wait till it comes. Have you far to go?" 

" Not very. LitUe Petwell Street. The tram puts 
me down quite near. Ain't I keeping you ? Which 
direction do you live?" 

" New Cross." 

" Oh, you 've come out of your way ! " 



ELEMENTARY JANE 41 

The light of a lamp shone on the young man's face. 
What a clear skin he had. He \^as clean-shaven and 
his features were very regular. He was not a bit like 
any of the rest of the orchestra. His linen was fault- 
lessly clean, and he did not wear spectacles, nor his 
hair on the collar of his coat She had thought from 
the stage that his eyes were brown, but she saw now 
that they were blue. His expression was grave when 
he was not smiling— gloomy even a little, but his 
smile changed all that. He was smilir j now. 

The same lamp shone on the face of Jane. Her 
eyes kindled at his, but her smile was made pathetic 
by the wanness that told of her recent tears. He was 
reminded of a white rose, and of something brittie 
and fragile, and, inconsequently, of Gounod's " Ave 
Mark" also, with the trembling long-drawn notes 
(he had been playing it that day in his room at New 
Cross), and as he thought of Curley Merino he set 
his teeth. 



i ! 



CHAPTER V 

Jane saw his expression change and wondered 
vaguely why. Her tram-car came along just then, and 
he hailed the driver for her and saw her take her 
place inside. Jane said, " I shall sse you to-morrow," 
and gave him her hand at parting, and managed to 
add, " and oh, I do hope you '11 get the vacancy," be- 
fore she stepped into the conveyance. It was empty, 
and she sat by the door and waved her hand to him 
twice before she was carried out of sight of him. And 
even after that she continued for some moments to 
lean forward and look in the direction whence she 
was travelling. She was excited and restless and not 
unhappy. What had happened since the incident 
that had so unnerved and distressed her seemed to 
throw it out of the prominence it had t*"-eatened to 
assume in the unwritten diary of her min.i. It did n't 
make much difference, did it ? The Merino Family 
had finished their engagement at the Camberwell 
Palace. She was not likely to come across them 
again just yet. Curley Merino would not dare a sec- 
ond time. (The drum — she always thought of him 
as the drum — was somehow connected with this 
thought.) The advertisements in the car caught her 
eye, and she read some of them. At a certain angle 
her head ached. Had it been aching all along? Her 
knees felt weak, too. The advertisements danced 



ELEMENTARY JANE 43 

iSoow'rH"'"^^"'' ^'P^^'*- The conductor 
m hTS u": !** ^" ^"^"^ '•«' •' «he was not 

had met his eyes and faltered as she sang. ... She 
had forgotten that all the time she was llMng to 
h m. Oh, cruel Curley Merino I She could see his face 
d«torted by her hands. It was like one of rCWne^ 
masks (only the mask was ugly and he could nev^ 
Whaf Z '." ?" ''"op -here she got her make^^" 

Wnd tnn ™M ^' ^"^ ^•''"^^^''^ »^- She wi 
kind, too No, she was all right The con- 
ductor was fanning her face with a halfpenny paper. 

Jane sat up and rubbed her eyes. 

"You're better now." the conductor said. "You 
WM nearly off, and it ain't a hot night either. You 're 
not very strong, are you, miss ? " 

"I 'veneverbeen faint before," said Jane. "Idon't 
know what it was." 

"You was nearly tumblin' forward. You'd 'a' 
been down on to the floor, I believe, if I hadn't 'a' 
caught y ." 

H "L'^^fi^""'''" ^'^ J*"''- She still felt bewil- 
dered. « I tiiought I was thinking." 

But she could not explain her sensations nor re- 
°1!?^' .*^*" accurately. Curiey Merino was con- 
nected with tiiem, she knew, and Michael Seaward 

o uL ?."'* P**^ °*-^°° Street, have I?" she 
asked suddenly. 



h.i 



44 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



" No, miss. You sit still there. Dawson Street you 
want I '11 tell you when we get there." 

Jane closed her eyes. A sense of security stole over 
her. She put away, as she had said that she could, 
all thought of the thing she wished to forget and let 
her mind dwell upon her new friend. She wondered 
about his life. It had been lonely she had gath- 
ered. That would account for the graveness (Jane 
was romantic and called it sadness) of his expression 
when he was not smiling. She hoped he would get 
on, and wondered what he had meant when he said 
that lately his wish to get on had strengthened. . . . 

" Dawson Street, miss," and a touch on her arm. 
She opened her eyes and rose to her feet He helped 
her tenderly to alight and asked her if she felt well 
enough to walk. Not till she was half down the street 
and the tram beyond hail did she remember that he 
had never asked for her fore. 

Mrs. Kerridge's window was dark when Jane 
reached home. She opened the door with her key 
and ascended the stairs as noiselessly as she could, 
glad not to have to account for her appearance. She 
undressed quickly and got into bed. Her whole wish 
now was to put a night between herself and her un- 
pleasant experience, and by the same period to bring 
nearer her meeting across the footlights with her new 
friend. Who could tell, perhaps he might even walk 
part of the way back with her as he had done to- 
night I She mentioned the drum in her prayers side 
by side with her mother, who, though she was dead, 



ELEMENTARY JANE 45 

had never dropped out of them, and Mrs. Kerridge, 
who had been dropped in from gratitude for many 
kindnesses. Then she went to sleep. 

She woke in the morning with the sensation of 
something having befallen her. It had followed her 
through her slumbers, taking more or less definite 
form. A few moments elapsed, however, before she 
could collect her thoughts and remember exactly 
what had taken place. Her headache, such as it had 
been, was quite gone, and a nighf s rest had restored 
her to the vigour she owed to her youth. 

Mrs. Kerridge, when Jane, her fire burning dila- 
torily, went down to her to "borrow" some boiling 
water to make her tea, said, " I did n't 'ear y* come 
in last night, dear. Was y' very late?" 

Jane said she had stopped to hear the end of the 
performance (as was the case), and had walked part 
of the way home. 

" I did n't take the tram tiU I got to the Goat and 
Trinkets. There was a very hill house last night, and 
there were two new turns after mine and I stopped 
for them. I came in very quietly so as not to wake 
you." 

She could not bring herself to tell Mrs. Kerridge 
of her adventure, but the semi-deception she seemed 
to herself to be practising upon her friend caused her 
to blush a rosy red. 

"The fire '11 catch your face, dear. Let me lift the 
kettie off for you." 

Jane said it was all right, and was grateful to the 



i*! 



i 



46 ELEMENTARY JANE 

glowing coals over which she was standing as she 

filled her little teapot, for the shelter they had afforded 

her. 
" I 'U boil y* an egg, if y' like," said Mrs. Kerridge. 

" I got five for sixpence last night from Bindeises. I 

took ' jm, they looked so large. I 'm going to 'ave 

one meself. You 'ave one, dear." 
But Jane wanted to get back to her room to be 

alone and to think. She had a bit of ham over from 

supper and it must be eaten. Thanks all the same to 

Mrs. Kerridge. 
"Or else they're fine eggs," Mrs. Kerridge said, 

" and I 'm sure you 're welcome." There was alwajrs 
a tag to any talk with Mrs. Kerridge. She summed 
up every case before she dismissed it 

Jane hurried back to her room. She was too much 
excited to eat with any appetite, and the slice of ham 
remained untouched and served her some hours later 
for dinner. She ate a few mouthfuls of bread and but- 
ter, but drank her tea eagerly. Life seemed to be be- 
ginning for her. What had happened had had to 
happen. She shuddered still at the thought of her 
struggle with the acrobat, but that was the price at 
which she had been destined to gain the drum for a 
friend. You had to pay for everything, and well for 
you if you paid first instead of last 
She could not stay in that morning. . . . 
Wet streets were shining. Rain had fallen and now 
the sky was blue. She wished for a sight of the river. 
It ran through a glistening town, she found, when 



ELEMENTARY JANE 47 

•he was standing on Westminster Bridge twenty min- 
utes later. The air was soft, and told of coming spring. 
Jane thought of crocuses and the smell of damp earth, 
and knew what the country would be like on a day 
like this. It was four years since she had seen brown 
hedgerows with the sun upon them, and birds flutter- 
ing in and out of them with glad chirpings to greet 
the first promise of a time of leaves and flowers. The 
spring seemed to be before Jane, too. A buoyancy 
lifted her spirits and floated them so that they sailed 
on expectancy as on a flood. She saw the world with 
larger eyes. Perhaps Curley had not meant to be 
cruel. 

There were seagulls wheeling above the water. 
Sometimes one or another dipped and skimmed the 
surface for offal on the incoming tide. Jane watched 
their untiring wings. The roar of the traffic was be- 
hind her. London was a living thing that day. A 
barge passed under the bridge, her sails red-brown 
as an autumn leaf and all her paint vivid and flam- 
ing. The soft wind blew her smoke this way and that 
A little boy was at the helm. 

The day passed quickly and slowly by turns. Jane 
worked at her dances in the afternoon, on the few 
square feet of space that could be obtained in her 
little room by pushing the chest of drawers into a 
corner and piling the table and the two nondescript 
chairs on the bed. She was taking lessons twice a 
week from the teacher to whom Mr. Paton had intro- 
duced her, but with One, two, three, to a hummed 



48 BLBMSNTARY JANE 

accompaniment and many interruptions and fresh 
beginnings consequent on tlie restriction of tlie avail- 
able area, she practised daily to the best of her ability. 
She went through her songs, too, and longed for a 
piano at this time. In the life of her father, at a period 
of evanescent prosperity, the Smiths had possessed 
one. Some speculation in which Mr. Smith had em- 
barked had turned out satisfactorily, and the acquire- 
ment of a piano upon the " hire system " had been 
one of the first results of having a littie spare money. 
Jane was sent to a decayed governess who imparted, 
to the daughters of small tradesmen and the like, the 
rudiments of music for the munificent remuneration 
of a shilling an hour, and, taking an interest in her 
studies, Jane madt progress, and soon learned to 
play the cheap airs that satisfied her and her parents' 
uneducated tastes. A falling off of the monthly pay- 
ments led, however, at the end of two years to the 
seizure of the instrument, and circumstances had 
never since then enabled the Smiths to replace it 
So Jane had to rehearse her songs as best she could 
without accompaniment 

Curley's scarf lay on the mantelpiece where she 
had put it on the previous evening. It caught her 
eye as she sang "The Lane" for the second time, 
and the song ended abruptiy on an unfinished note. 
She ap j • -<ached it — timidly, one watching her would 
have said, — and stood looking at it for some mo- 
ments. She had often seen it round Curley's sha{}ely 
throat It brought bm instaotiy before her. Across 



' u 



BLBMENTARY JANE 4, 

her mind like shadows flitting over a wall present- 
ments of him in half a dozen aspects foUowed one 
another in quick succession. She saw the beautihJ 
lines of his limbs and body as with a derterous grace 
and eaw he went through a performance that, seem- 
ing to defy the laws of gravity, owed its success to 
the completeness of its obedience to them. She saw 
him standing near Perky; saw him at the wings in 
the Wue serge suit ; saw him drinking-a long drink 
— trom a pewter pot, his eyes showing above the 
rim, and twinkling, perhaps, as they carried on the 
conversation the occupation of his mouth might have 
interrupted ; saw his roving glance- a man's glance : 
saw a funny little run he gave-a boy's run -after 
some boyish trick he had played upon some fellow- 
artist; saw him push his hat back on his head and 
lean, as was a habit with him, against whatever he 
happened to be near; saw him laugh and heard the 
sound (you always wanted to laugh with Curieyl)- 
saw Curley, in short, in all that expressed or appearwi 
to express him. He reminded her of statues she had 
seen, and pictures (outline woodcuts) in books in 
second-hand shops, but, most of all, of days when 
the sun shone brighdy. He had been suggested, and 
elenientary Jane, to her credit, had felt it dimly, in 
the blueness of the sky that morning ; in the gleam 
of the flowing river; in the rapidness of the river's 
flowing; in the sound of it (could she have heard it) 
where it swiried round the piles of the bridge ; in the 
colours of roof and road, and even busy traflic; in 



3C» ILIMINTARY JAMB 

the tolt ain that spoke of the coining spring. The 
giills coming up from the sea on strong wings were 
not freer in tbeit movements tlutn Curley. He was 
an embodiment of glowing, pulsing, singing youth 
and life. Jane did not know what Pagan meant, but 
she knew now the limits Curley had set to his aspira- 
tions. He seemed complete. He lacked everything 
. . . anddidhelack? . . . and did it matter to lack 7 
Jane felt confused. The scarf (she had not withdrawn 
her eyes from it, and a faint scent of smoke that dung 
to it was in her nostrils) seemed to exercise some 
power over her. The scarlet of it burned her eyes. 
She must hate Curley ; it was her duty, — more, the 
glimpse he bad given her of his true nature had 
made it her privilege. Did she hate him ? —did she 
hate him as much as she had hated him the previous 
night? — that morning even ? Had she hated him at 
all, even when he frightened her 7 She had liked him 
before. Why try to hate him for liking her 7 He said 
he liked her better than other girls he had liked . . . 
that was a horrid word. There were different sorts 
of liking. Jane felt frightened again — the same sense 
of potential fear oppressed her as at the moment that 
had called this fear to life. She thought of Michael 
Seaward, knowing that he would have the power 
to calm her ; but, for a strange space, brief, it was 
probable but unmeasured, she could not recall his 
appearance. She could only see Curley. He thrust 
his laughing, irresponsible face between her and the 
shadowy face beyond. He seemed to ba£9e her. She 



BLBMENTARY JANB 51 

thought he laughed at the knowledge that he could 
•o harass her. She remembered a rooe he had been 
wearing in hia coat, and how in the struggle with 
her the petals had fallen till but one or two remained. 
The stripped and stricken look of the thing that had 
been a flower was present to her. She had not known 
that she had observed it at all. 

The strange moment passed, and Jane recalled the 
fMe of Michael 



ii 



1M 



CHAPTER VI 

But in the flesh she did not see him that night His 
place in the orchestra was empty. Some one else 
played his instrument intermittently (combining it 
with what Jane called a trumpet) and a deprecating 
enquiry or two deUvered with what air of indiffer- 
ence she could assume did not elicit any explanation 
of his absence. 

"Gracious, child, I don't know," Nelly Chingford 
said. "I'm sure I can't tell one from another. They 
play too loud, some of them, that 's all I notice about 
them. I had one of my best songs queered that way 
at the North London one night I could n't hear me 
own voice, and I flatter myself I talce a bit of drown- 
ing." ^ 

Jane was learning that in "the profession" all 
topics led to one. It was an abstruse subject that 
could not be made to demand or at least justify some 
personal allusion or application or anecdote. Up to 
the moment of appearing on the stage Jane hoped 
that she would see Michael Seaward take his place 
but her turn came and he was not there. She did not 
smg quite as well as usual that night or it may be 
that the audience was colder. She missed the sup- 
port of the drum, and felt sure that if her friend had 
been there to point the chorus in the customary way 
the gallery would have joined in with more hearti- 



ELEMENTARY JANE 53 

ness. She dreaded her second song and was glad 
when her time was over. She was relieved afterwards 
to hear Lilla of the Hazardous Wire Act, who had 
appeared earlier in the programme, say that she 
didn't know what was the matter with the house, it 
was enough to freeze you, and she was generally 
sure of a round when she did the jugglery business 
with her handkerchief over her eyes, but had hardly 
got a hand. 

"I hate the public sometimes," she said, "there's 
no counting on them. They 're siUy fools, too, for, if 
they on'y had the sense to see it, it's the way they 
take you that makes your show good or bad. I never 
drop anything if it s a go, and it was their stupidity 
made me miss those two knives to-night Set of nin- 
nies I" 

" I don't have to complain of "em very often," said 
Miss Chingford, who was fastening her coat " But 
they are stupid sometimes. You can't giveitareason." 

"It's atmospheric," said a man who was dressed 
as a charwoman and was waiting his turn. " What 
do you say. Miss Tandem ? " 

Jane, who had n't the least idea what he meant, 
"expected" that was it 

"Atmospheric, that's what it is," repeated the 
female personator suavely. "The whole house gets 
charged with it and ft takes talent to overcome it" 

" H'm," said Lilla. " We 'U see what you can do." 

" It 's like this," began the charwoman, but the cur- 
rent turn— a sketch— _coming to an end, he had to 






S4 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



watch for his entrance, and he left his sentence unfin- 
ished. The man and girl, who came off somewhat 
dejectedly, joined in the discussion. They had come 
on from the Mocha, where they had met with a very 
different reception. 

Jane, timid always and never very talkative in gen- 
eral conversation (the result of a humility that made 
her silent upon matters of which she knew but little, 
and on which she was thus shy of expressing an opin- 
ion), pricked up her ears at the mention of the Mocha, 
and felt that she might hazard a remark. She ad- 
dressed it to the g^l. 

" That 's where the Merino Family have gone, is n't 
it ? Did you see them there ? " 

"They 'd left before we came. There 'd been some 
row on, too." 

"Row?" 

" I did n't hear the rights of it, but one of them had 
a fight with some one, or something." 

"A fight?" 

Jane grew pale. 

"Which of them?" 

" Well, I did n't take much notice. I think I heard 
one of them got run in. Fred might know." 

" Oh, ask him," said Jane. 

" What was that about one of the Merino Troupe ? " 
said the girl, touching her comrade's arm. " There 
was a fight, wasn't there, or something? They'd 
been doing a show here till last night and I was tell- 
ing this young lady — " 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



55 



The attention of the others was arrested. They 
looked at Jane first at the mention of her, then at the 
man who answered to the name of Fred. 

" I did n't hear quite what it was, but one of them 
— what's that good-looking one's name? Curley? 
That's it He got a bit of a thrashing, I believe, from 
some one who had a grudge against him and — " 

" What, Curley get a thrashing I " said Miss Ching- 
ford. 

Lilla gave utterance to an elegant " Well, 1 never 1 " 

Jane, changing colour for any one who had hap- 
pened to observe her, looked at the man for further 
information. 

"Who gave it him?" Miss Chingford said. 

That was what Jane trembled to know, but could 
not trust herself to ask. 

" Some fellow who was waiting for him outside. I 
did n't hear who it was. It all happened, you see, an 
hour before me and my partner got there. The Me- 
rinos were doing an early turn." 

" They 'd another hall," said Lilla. 

" Yes, Rawlinses," said Miss Chingford. " Poor lit- 
tle Curley I What had he bsen up to, I wonder." 

" Something he 'd no business, you bet your life." 

" He's a mischievous young monkey." 

" He '11 get himself into trouble if he don't watch it" 

" Seems as if he had." 

"Did you — did you say he was run in?" Jane 
asked, timidly, addressing "Fred's" partner. 

"I think so. Somebody was. Wasn't he, Fred?" 



36 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



" No, it was the other one." x 

"You don't know who that was?" 

" No, I think I heard Curley had to go round to 
the station, but it was him as charged the other one 
with an unprovoked assault" 

" I wonder what that boy 'd been up to," Nelly 
Chingford said again. " Some girl he 's been getting 
into trouble, I expect" 

Jane held her breath. 

" You could n't blame the girl," Lilla said, and Fred 
laughed. 

"And nobody 'd have the heart to be hard on Cur- 
ley," said Miss Chingford. "He's a pretty boy if 
ever there was one. Curley get a thrashing I It's a 
shame." 

"Oh, I take his part, too," said Lilla. 

" You were doing that," said Fred, "when you said 
you could n't blame the girl." 

Lilla looked at him to see whether he was laugh- 
ing at her. That she had not been inconsistent was 
too subtle a point for the artist of the Hazardous Wire 
to understand. 

Nelly Chingford said, " I know who '11 be on Cur- 
ley's side, nght or wrong." 

And Lilla said, "Who's that?" rather quickly. 

" Why the Ladies, of course. What do you say, 
dear? You haven't said much." 

She turned to Jane, who blushed at once, and every- 
body laughed. 

"And I wouldn't say Curley wasn't a bit gone in 



ELEMENTARY JANE] 37 

your direction," Miss Chingford could not resist add- 
ing. 

" And you could n't blame Curley," said Lilla. She 
was satisfied that she was not being what she called 
"got at," and felt she could afford to be geneipus. 

" That you could n't," said Nelly heartily. 

" I must be going," said Jane. 

The group broke up presently. 

Jane went home and could not sleep. Oh, if it was 
Michael Seaward who had thrashed Curley, and on 
her account I He had been " run in." Did that mean 
a night in the cells? Perhaps it was not Michael. 
Then poor Curley. She did not like to think of Cur- 
ley as having met with chastisement You had to 
forgive Curley hLs transgressions. You could n't help 
it Lilla and Nelly Chingford were right Was Cur- 
ley hurt? Perhaps he was disabled. Jane had seen 
street fights. Such dreadful things happened in them. 
A man had had his ankle dislocated by a kick out- 
side that public house near Binderses one Saturday. 
An injury to Curley might ruin his career. But 
Michael Seaward would not kick. How silly she was, 
and it might not have been Michael at alii Then 
where was he to-night? Why was his place in the 
orchestra empty? She sat up in bed in the darkness 
and thought of the hours that must pass before she 
knew. Oh, why had she brought this thing upon her- 
self ? It would have been better to let Curley have 
his kiss and have made no fuss about it Poor Cur- 
ley I Why had she told Michael at all? She was a 



58 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



little fool. If she could go to sleep and forget all 
about it I But she was wide awake. What a dreadful 
evening it had been. Oh, Curley and Michael I 

Then a new view of the case presented itself to 
her. Jane had read much penny fiction. She had 
never had a lover — and now two men were fighting 
for her. There was comfort in that. There was even 
some glory in it. It was not for nothing that she 
had felt herself to be standing on the threshold of 
adventure. 

For a time this idea thrilled her with an excitement 
that was stimulating; then rain beginning to beat 
upon the roof and against her window, her spirit 
sank once more within her. The gorgeous day that 
had promised spring had gone back of its word, and 
the winter was still there. Life was as disappointing. 
What rain I A wind was rising and the drops lashed 
the panes. They beat upon the slates like whipcords ; 
Jane listened to the sound. 

How litde Nelly Chingford had known when She 
"chaffed" her about Curley how her light words 
told I Jane wondered that her fleeting colour and 
her trembling had not betrayed her. She had wished 
to sink into the floor when they all looked at her. 
But no one had " noticed." Some words of Michael 
Seaward's now recurred to her. Before she had ex- 
plained her trouble to him in the presence of the ter- 
rible hoardings, he had said it would all come right 
whatever it was. She liked to think of that assurance 
now. But where was he to-night ? 



ELEMENTARY JANE S9 

Jane cried a little and felt better. The splashing of 
the rain became rhjrthmical. The beating of it upon 
the slates was not like the beating of whipcords. It 
was like the sound of many drums, and to this sound 
Jane presendy fell into slumber. 

Her lesson and going to and from it occupied the 
next morning, which was shortened by the fact that 
Jane overslept herself and did not wake till the clocks 
were striking ten. In the afternoon resdessness pos- 
sessed her, and it occurred to her that she might leave 
Curley's scarf for him at the Mocha Music Hall, and 
■o have a chance of hearing news of the matter that 
absorbed her thoughts. She folded the scarf neatly 
and made it into a parcel which she directed to him, 
in the childish handwriting that was somehow exacdy 
the handwriting you would have expected from Jane. 
Then she started on her errand. She walked twice 
round the music-hall before she could find the stage- 
door, and then came upon it suddenly. A man was 
standing on the step, and she could not pluck up 
courage to address him. She passed him by, and 
went round to the front once more and read the bills. 
There were names she had heard of amongst those 
that figured upon them. " Miss Alfie Le Roy, Serio 
and Dancer," and " Miss Bessy Pwang, the Charm- 
ing Burlesque actress and Queen of Song," took her 
back to her first interview with Mr. Paton. "The 
Famous Merino Family" in red letters made her 
heart jump. After all the man at the stage-door could 
not eat her. She screwed up her courage and went back. 



60 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



He was looking up the street and whistling. He 
did not hear her the first time she addressed him. 

He looked at the parcel. 

'< Yes, that 's right," he said, when he had read the 
address. 

" Thank you," said Jane. 

After all, could she ask ? She could not, and began 
to move away. She must, and came back. 

" Was he hurt last night ? " 

"Hurt? Who? Oh, Mr. Merino. Well, he got a 
bit of a drubbin' before they was separated. I missed 
it all myseU. I heard the noise, but the police was 
here before I could get down, and all I heard was 
him charging the other one with assaulting him." 

" Who was the other one ? " 

Jane's lips grew white. 

" Seaweed or Seaward, I think some one said ; I 
don't know him myself. The case came on this 
momin*. He was fined, I think, or bound over to 
keep the peace or something." 

Jane went home with lagging steps. 

Every one was talking of the affair that night at 
the Camberwell. 

Jane peered into the orchestra with apprehensive 
eyes. 

Michael was not there. 

Every one took Curley's part. 

" i^ie 's a damned smart young fella," Mr. Isaacs 
said. "I'm glad it didn't happen here. And what 
that Seaward done it for, goodness knows. He said 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



«i 



he 'd nothing to lay. He had the face to come round 
here this evening, but I told him he 'd be assaulting 
me next, and he could go and play the drum some- 
where else." 
Mr. Isaacs laughed loud. 



i 



CHAPTER VII 

Michael left the music-hall at once on learning that 
his services were no longer required and walked to- 
wards Peckham Road, meaning there to take the 
tram for New Cross. The passage that had been the 
scene of Jane's struggle and distress lay on his way. 
He stopped when he reached the spot where he had 
come upon her, and, recalling her vividly, did not 
regret the action that had brought about his dismis- 
sal. There was no one to see, or he might have been 
thought to behave oddly. He examined the hoarding 
minutely, and, finding a knot in a board and seem- 
ing to recognize it, he pressed his lips to the wood a 
little to one side of it What he kissed was, as nearly 
as he could guess it, the place where Jane's head had 
rested when she cried. 

He reached Peckham Road before he remembered 
that the fine his chastisement of Curley had cost him, 
together with the loss of his engagement, would so 
tax his resources that the very strictest economy 
would be necessary to keep his expenditure within 
the narrowed limits of his means. He set himself to 
walk, therefore (no great hardship), and turned to- 
wards home. 

It was a fine night The rain to which Jane had 
listened and fallen asleep had washed London clean. 
The pavements were dry, with damp at the joinings. 



ELEMENTARY JANE gj 

The roads where traffic had not disturbed them had 
Mulir ^' """y '°°'' wd the absence of mud that 
iftoi;'^"r''r' O'-^-^-'e playing tune. 
?it Jn7^' Camberwell would be full that night 

iot^t? 'f''^^ """^ ^^" *°"'** »'»? *"d he would 
no^ there to hear. Would she see that he was not 

mZ^ »«"ows He chose quieter streets till the 
mono ony of row after row of litUe houses drove him 
bjuJc to where the monotony was of a less insisted 

Jane would hear . . . what would she think? Per- 
haps she would blame him as others blamed him. 
Mr Isaacs' attitude represented, it was probable, that 

t^TTirV^"^- ■'*""' °"'y' ^^"''l »"°^ what lay 
behmd his sUence. But what good had he done her. 

H."!f '^^ ^'^^^ "^^y ^"^^'^ ''hen he entered it 
nl!,i T^K* ^"f ^'^ "*'"*'^ »he fire which was 
nearly out, but yielded to careful treatment and pre- 
sently burned up. Then things looked morecheekul. 
The room thus illumined showed itself to be small 
but not uncomfortable. It was inexpensively furnished 

t^Sl* TT '^"^ ^ (*"*' ^^*y« ™^« Michael 
think of a line m a hymn that he had been used as a 
child to misconstrue into a comparison of the relative 
size of a bed and a grave), a washstand, a table a 



«4 BLBMBNTARY JANE 

chair, and a cbeit of drawera of painted deal. To 
theie tilings Michael had added a wickerwork arm- 
chair of hit own, and a few shelves on which were 
ranged what books he possessed. Two or three un- 
framed prints were on the walls and a couple of 
photographs upon the mantelpiece. A violin-case and 
some music lay on the top of the chest of drawers. 

Michael looked round dejectedly and wondered 
wliat was in store for him. He was sorrier than he 
admitted at the loss of his engagement The pay 
had been small, but, the rest of his income fluctuat- 
ing, a certain weeldy salary was not a thing to hold 
lighdy. Moreover, the vacancy he had been likely to 
get would have improved his position considerably. 
He lay back in the wicker chair and fixed his gaze 
upon the fire. He did not intend his life to be a tail- 
ure. He had energy and perseverance as gifts, and 
they stood to him for capital. He knew tliat, but now 
a {Mralysb of will came upon him and despondency 
crept in unchecked. He felt that whether he suc- 
ceeded or failed it mattered little. 

So, he sat inert, while the fire cracked and pouted 
and tlvew out litde jets of smoke from bubbles of 
pitch, and seemed a more living thing than he. He lost 
himself in gloomy reflections. Let him be thanldul, 
he told himself, that he had no one dependent upon 
him. He must hold it good tliat he stood alone. The 
curse of his life was thus its blessing. He reviewed 
his childhood, his boyhood, his manhood, and saw 
them all from the same standpoint Ill-luck he said 



BLKMBNTART JANE 65 

to himself puraued him (Icnowing hill well that it was 
not wholly true, though it was true in part). He had 
had to a great extent to shift for himself, for the death 
of both his parents in his infancy had deprived him of 
the protection and compa'^i'.n.-.bip natural to that pe- 
riod, and the aunt of Biraiiiip,) air. Tfii) tl'.!>ntoolchim 
under by no means unv .ict .1 j-rote-t, 1 a<" done little 
to supply their place. ' a) I.lici. ul ha 1 n >t sufiered 
permanent injury at Kn 'i- idj spi,:.- 1 ' vKe stuff he 
was made of. A bov ol wt'!''jr A^'..'<--^(:asitive and 
emotional as was Micfcael h iinse'f - would, it is prob- 
able, have carried into later lile sor.K'hing more than 
a somewhat grave ezpressic; of countenance, as a 
record of the system of repression to the rigour of 
which he was subjected in these early days. But the 
little boy, who cried himself to sleep many and many 
a night, had at times a hopefulness and a belief in 
better things to come that saved him from despair, 
even when his prospects seemed darkest He worked 
hard at school, determined to equip himself for the 
struggle he knew life to be, and by the time he was 
twelve years old, and was earning half a crown a 
week as an errand boy, he was better educated than 
many a lad of his age in more exalted stations. Then 
his aunt died and Michael found himself adrift He 
obtained a situation in the family of a rich trades- 
man as odd hand, cleaning Icnives and boots, carry- 
ing coals and water, and doing whatever was nobody 
else's business, and much besides. Here he stayed, 
promoted in course of time to buttons and more de- 



66 ELEMENTARY JANE 

finite duties, till he was fifteen, when, Uie establish- 
ment being reduced, he got a like situation in the 
house of a clergyman, and there it was that his tastes 
for music were noticed and received encouragement. 
He was found to possess a very creditable voice and 
he joined the church choir, where he came in con- 
tact with his first friend. This was a Mr. Atherton, 
organist at the church in question and a man of some 
perception. He was attracted by the tall earnest lad 
with the well-cut face and the intelligent manner, 
and saw in him— or thought he saw— something 
more promising than was to be found in die average 
choir-boy who sang for sixpence a Sunday and the 
yearly treat He called him up mto the loft and asked 
him a few questions. He was pleased, perhaps, with 
the substance or the spirit of A^ boy's answers, for not 
very long elapsed before he was giving Michael les- 
sons in music for no more substantial reward than 
the lighting-up of Michael's face, his gratitude, and 
his devotion. These lessons lasted for a year, and this 
year was the happiest in Michael's lift. Every avail- 
able minute that he had to himself was spent in study- 
ing the books that Mr. Atherton lent him, and many 
of his afternoons and evenings "out" were spent 
practising tiie violin, which his tutor had given him, 
wherever he could do so undisturbed and undisturb- 
ing— in the stable loft, or, if his master was out and 
there was no one to hear him, in his distant littie bed- 
room. He made steady progress, and his zeal more 
than repaid tiie pains expended upon him. At die 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



67 



end of the year, however, his lessons abruptly ceased. 
Mr. Atherton fell ill, and after a protracted convales- 
cence was ordered abroad for his health and was 
obliged to relinquish his post It surprised even him- 
self to find how great a part his reluctance to leave 
Michael had in his disinclination to obey his doctor. 
Then Michael stood once more alone. But his friend- 
ship with the organist had done much to develop 
him. In his loveless life the necessity to love some 
one had been urgent as hunger, and when Mr. 
Atherton had said good-bye to him, Michael knew that 
his sorrow was its own compensation. The possession 
of a grief even (and Michael grieved sorely after his 
friend) was not all pain to one who had possessed 
nothing. 

Through various vicissitudes went Michael then. 
He could not reconcile himself to a life spent in serv- 
ice, though the years passed before he finally decided 
to leave it A change of place during this period effect- 
ually put a stop to any musical studies. That he might 
have a part of his evenings free he went into a small 
shop ; thence a year later into a larger, and making 
friends amongst his fellow-workers he found life a 
fuller and a pleasanter thing than it had promised to 
be. But he had lost much time, and his taste had suf- 
fered by lack of education. He worked at his music, 
however, and joined an obscure orchestral society. 
From this he got an engagement in the orchestra at 
one of the smaller music-halls in Birmingham. His 
attainments were too incomplete to [>ermit of his as- 



! rAi 



68 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



piring higher for a considerable period. Howbeit by 
the time he was twenty-one he could play two or 
three instruments sufficiently well, and was giving 
lessons in the dajrtime on the violin and the banjo. 
The juxtaposition of the two was somehow repre- 
sentative of the plane on which he stood. 

Another year passed and he was drawn to London. 
Here ill-luck seemed inclined to force him under for 
the first six months. He got a short engagement at 
an Islington hall, and afterwards eked out a some- 
what precarious living by giving lessons intermit- 
tendy and playingat free-and-easys, sing-songs, smok- 
ing concerts, and the like. More than once he thought 
of returning to Birmingham ; to the counter; to serv- 
ice even. But of a sudden matters began to mend. He 
chanced on a music-shop in New Cross where he was 
able to give lessons by an arrangement with the pro- 
prietor — a small room with a piano being put at his 
disposal in return for a percentage of his profits. He 
engaged a bedroom close by — that in which he was 
now brooding with his household gods (the two pho- 
tographs, the prints, the books, his violin) about him ; 
and the neighbourhood being populous and fairly 
well to do, pupils found their way to him. When he 
secured the vacancy, humble though it was, but with 
its chance of advancement, in the orchestra at the 
Camberwell, things began to look permanent and 
cheerful. 

Now once more the affairs of his life took the tran- 
sient air that they had always worn. There had been 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



69 



no resting-piace hitherto, and there was none now. 
The plaint was old as the world, if Michael had paused 
to consider it The secret of continuance was in it too 
— and hope and incitement to effort were in it also. 
But he did not see them there just then. He only 
saw fate pushing him off the ledge towards which he 
had been dimbing, and which he had thought just 
reached. 

The morning found him less despondent Of what 
use was it to be young if adverse circumstances were 
not to be overridden. Even in the darkest days, when 
his aunt had driven the iron into his soul and the im- 
pulses and humours natural to childhood (or his child- 
hood) had been repressed in relentless fashion, he had 
not lost a self-reliance that had its foundations in the 
health that was his birthright He came, he had heard, 
of a healthy stock (the untimely death of his parents 
had been due to accident — the capsizing of a boat 
— not to constitutional causes), and he was not ill- 
equipped for the struggle to which he had been 
bom. 

He rose — a litde later than usual it seemed to 
him, though on looking at his watch he found that 
it had stopped and so could not be sure, and he 
waited for his landlady to bring him his breakfast 
The sound of footsteps on the stairs and the knock 
at his door were delayed, surely. They came, how- 
ever, at length. 

He had suffered much at the hands of slovenly and 
incompetent landladies before he lighted upon his 



TO 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



present lodging. Here, however plain might be his 
fare, — meagre even upon occasion if his funds were 
low, — he could count upon clean plates and shining 
forks and a cup from which he need not hesitate to 
drink. As the result, perhaps, of his training in serv- 
ice, the discomfort in which the young bachelor of his 
station in life was expected to live by those who pre- 
tended to minister to his wants amazed him, and as 
he watched the deft young woman laying his cloth 
and taking the few things he required noiselessly 
from the tray she rested on her hip, he felt that, luck 
in or luck out, some luck remained to him. 

" You did n't say what you 'd like, Mr. Seaward, so 
I done you a bloater. We 're having some ourselves. 
My husband always f anciesabloater Sunday morning. " 

" Thank you, Mrs. Sands. I forgot it was Sunday, 
truth to tell." 

So had he, and had meant to go round to the 
music-shop. 

Mrs. Sands laughed pleasantly. 

" I wish my husband had forgot it too," she said, 
" and he would n't be still abed. Such a piece of work 
I have every week to get the children off in time to 
the Sunday-School. But there, he's up at six all the 
week. I can't blame him." 

Mrs. Sands looked round. 

" Will you have your fire this morning ? " 

Michael shook his head. 

"It'll do later," he said. "I shall be going out 
presentiy." 



! *:• 



BLBMENTARY JANE 71 

He nt down to his breakfast Mrs. Sands withdrew 
and came back. She held something in her hand. 
Michael recognized it as the money that he had left 
as usual opoo die table on the preceding evening for 
his rent 

" I want to say, Mr. Seaward, and Mr. Sands told 
me to say it, too, that if it 's not quite convenient to 
you this week owing to the extra expense you've 
been put to " (Mrs. Sands thus delicately alluded to 
the fine of which she knew, Michael having made no 
secret of the result cA his conduct, though he had 
kept silence upon the reason of it) ; "if it'd suit you 
better for it to stand over, it can, sir, and any time '11 
do." 

She was going to put the money upon the chest 
at diawers, but Michael would not hear of her leav- 
ing it 

" It '» very good of you and Mr. Sands — very, very 
good of you, bat it 's not necessary. Really." 

"ReaBy, air?" 

" Really, Mrs. Sands. It 's none the le.~is good of 
you, and I shan't forget it." 

He was touched. 

" I shan't forget it," he said again ; and was re- 
minded of the gratitude he had never been able fully 
to express to Mr. Atherton. The world seemed full 
of kindness. 

" Say half, then, Mr. Seaward, and let half stand 
<»iver. You see. Sands is in full work and earns good 
money at the yard." 



7a 



BLSMENTARY JANE 



" No, Mrs. Sands, but thank you both heartily." 

" Well, if you won't, you won't." 

She nodded and mited and went away. 

Michael finished his breaUnt 

He put on his coat presendy and went out To- 
day at least he need not think of the future. Time 
enough cc think what he should do when the work 
of the week began. He thought he would like to get 
away from his fellow-men, and wondered where he 
could go and leave their haunts behind. He thought 
of Greenwich Park. At this time of year it would not 
be crowded as when summer weather drew up crowds 
from Deptford and Blackheath Hill. A few miles of 
street brought him to the Hospital. Here time seemed 
to have stood still. The sight of a pensioner sent his 
thougbts to the sea, and thither they flowed also on 
the grey river. He had never seen the sea. How 
strange that was. How bounded must be his range. 
Ah I one day, one day I Jane was in that cry. 

The morning was fresh and clear, but somewhat 
sombre witiat. The sky was cloudy but high, and a 
stifF wind swept round the hill and tossed the leaf- 
less branches of the chestnut trees. Michael went and 
stood under them presently to listen to the sound. 
The roar of waves was resembled, he had read, by 
wind in a forest Oh, he would read, he would read. 
What were books for, if not for sue'' as he who could 
not travel and see for himself ? The size of some of 
the trunks struck him, and he wondered what was 
their age. Once each of these giants had been a 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



7S 



slender sapling. That was the observatory, that build- 
ing to his left, and that the clock that timed England. 
He walked up to it and set his watch. He saw others 
do the same. 

The long avenues and the broad paths seemed 
generously spacious after the streets through which 
he had passed. He drew the air deeply into his lungs 
and felt invigorated. Between the trees, the distances 
were elusively blue. He walked to the gates and 
looked out across Blackheath. He stood still for some 
moments, and then turned back, and took another 
direction, pausing now and then to look at the view, 
or the deer, or children playing on the slopes or 
amongst the trees. Lovers sauntered, arm in arm, 
along the more secluded walks. A few, despite the 
wind, were sitting on the seats. The scarlet ribbon on 
a girl's hat was like a spot of fire against the brown 
of one of the tree-trunks, and the yellow braid on a 
horse-artilleryman made his trim figure conspicuous. 

Michael paused longest at a point whence the 
grround fell away from him in a steep decline, and 
looked this way and that across the valley. The 
clouds broke at this moment, and the sun shone out 
and gilded tree and sward, roof and river. The day 
was transfigured. Colours revealed themselves where 
before there had been but murkiness. A bit of glass 
became a diamond. Lights and shadows flecked the 
slopes. The charm of the old park seized Michael's 
imagination and possessed it. He saw with wider 
vision. The paths winding round the hills and 



74 ELEMENTARY JANE 

through the groves belonged to the picture life of 
past centuries. There lovers had walked as lovers 
were walking now. The record of their vows was 
written, for those who could read it, in the very 
a'r. . . . 

JprVs face rose up before him. He saw her as he 
harl j^tit her many times, and he saw her as he had 
SAt^i^ ner once. Her voice rang in his ears ; and little 
movements that she made as she sang were repro- 
duced for him in recollection. 

Michael left Greenwich with regret. He felt like 
one who has had a holiday and is returning to work, 
but he felt also the benefit which such a one should 
feel. He walked briskly, and in time reached home. 

Mis. Sands met him on the stairs. 

" There 's been a young lady asking for you," she 
said. 

" For me ! " 

Mrs. Sands nodded and smiled. 

" I did n't expect any one. Who was it ? " 

" She did n't give any name. She seemed to want 
to see you very much, and she asked if I knew when 
you 'd be in." 

" Did she leave no message ? " 

" No. She said she would write, that was all." 

Michael supfKised it must have been one of his pu- 
pils, and went up to his room. Thither Mrs. Sands 
followed him presently with his dinner. His thoughts 
ran on what she had told him. He could think of 
nothing that would bring a pupil to seehim on Sunday. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



75 



He asked for some description of his visitor. 

Of medium height, Mis. Sands would have called 
her, and plainly dressed. Mrs. Sands had not noticed 
the colour of her hair or her eyes. A wild conjecture 
had prompted Michael to ask. He abandoned it at 
once : returned to it a moment later when Mrs. Sands 
said slight and delicate-looking and with a pretty 
colour. 

Vhen she further spoke of a timid manner, Michael 
ceased to question, and his heart beat faster. 



m 



CHAPTER VIII 

Jane left the music-hall at once after she had done 
her turn on that Saturday night. The house was full 
and she had been applauded loudly, but her heart 
was very heavy. She took her joys and sorrows seri- 
ously, and she felt just then as if she could never be 
happy again. To have been the means of bringing 
about the dismissal of her friend was a pain that she 
could hardly keep to herself. She cried as she hur- 
ried along the streets. If she could but tell him how 
sorry she was I He might not even know that she 
had learnt what he had done for her sake. When this 
became a thought that she could not endure, she 
stood still in her pain. She must tell him. 

She retraced her steps, and reached the stage-door, 
it chanced, as two or three of the membeis of the 
orchestra were leaving it ; she put her shyness from 
her, and asked one of them if he could give her Mr. 
Seaward's address. He could not, and referred to a 
second, who suggested in turn a third. Jane felt her 
cheeks redden. 

Eut vhen, once more, she turned towards home, 
she was saying a number and the name of a street 
over and over to herself that she might remember 
them, and what else mattered ? In the omnibus by 
which she travelled presently, she found courage to 
borrow the conductor's pencU, and she wrote the ad- 



BLBMENTARY JANS 



77 



dress on the envelope of a letter she found in her 
pocket 

She let herself in with her key, and was going up 
to her room when a voice called to her. 

"That you, my dear?" 

Jane paused, catching her lower lip between her 
teeth. 

"Yes, Mrs. Kerridge." 

" Come in a minute." 

There was a sound of some one moving across the 
floor and the door of Mrs. Kerridge's room was 
opened. 

"I don't think I will to-night." 

" Oh, just a minute," said Mrs. Kerridge. " Here 's 
Mrs. Atwell here who 'd like to tell you the litde bit 
of good fortune as has come to her and hers." 

Mrs. Kerridge looked radiant. Jane saw that some* 
thing had happened. Mrs. Atwell was sitting by the 
table. The news was soon told. 

Mr. Atwell had, by the death of a distant relation, 
come in for a little freehold property at Bermondsey 
— a ten-roomed house with a few square yards of 
g^den, and a small legacy. 

Jane forgot her trouble, and flushed with sympathy. 
Mrs. Kerridge pointed to the table. Jane shook her 
head. Mrs. Kerridge insisted. 

"Not eat a bit of supper top o' that I" she cried. 
" My word I You set down and take y* coat off and 
let Mrs. Atwell tell y' all about it" 

She would take no denial. Jane suffered herself to 



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78 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



be persuaded and, to please her, ate a few mouthfuls 
of cake. There were the remains of some hot dish, 
but when Mrs. Kerridge nodded in its direction, Jane, 
listening to Mrs. Atwell, who was speaking the while, 
shook her head again, and compromised matters by 
helping herself to the cake. 

" You '11 find a drop of beer in the jug," Mrs. Ker- 
ridge whispered in parenthesis. 

Jane acknowledged the intimation with a smile, and 
turned once more to the other. Jane knew that ' Arry's 
mother was thought a pretty woman, but now she 
saw for the first time how pretty Mrs. Atwell could 
be. Her cheeks were glowing and her eyes shone. 
She was happy and excited. Prosperity illumined her 
as sunshine a landscape. 

She laughed once or twice of sheer elation. 

" It is n't as if we 'd ever had the least expectation 
from Jow's cousin. We did n't 'ardly know 'im, not 
to speak to, and when Jew got the letter this momin' 
you could 'a' knocked either of us down with a straw. 
Yes, it only come this momin', and it's been a day, 
I can tell y'." 

" A sort of day as don't come every week," said 
Mrs. Kerridge. 

"Jow went off to the lawyer first thing — some- 
where Lincoln's Inn way, and I tell y' I could n't set- 
tle to nothing till 'e come 'ome. I kep' on thinkin' 
suppose it was a 'oax, after all. I did n't durse to let 
myself believe it." 
. " But it was true?" said Jane. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



79 



" I 'd only got to look at Jow's face when he come 
back. You should 'a' seen 'Arry. His dadda took him 
out and bought a box of soldiers, and he would n't 
part with them not for a single minute. He says 
' Dadda 's a rich man,' he says, and all dinner-time 
he 'ad one of them soldiers on the table beside his 
plate, and this afternoon, when I took 'im to my sister 
at Kennington where he 's stayin' the night, — it 's 
her Charley's birthday, and she'd promised 'Arry 
should come, — he took 'em with 'im to show hb 
cousins. 'E 's a fair caution." 

" It 's nice to see children happy," said Jane. 

She went up to her room presently. The weight at 
her heart was less heavy. She had fallen under the 
spell of Mrs. Atwell's exhilaration. 

The morning came before it seemed due, and Jane 
could only suppose that she had slept soundly. As 
she found herself still sleepy when habit or sounds 
about the house first awoke her from deep slumber, 
she suffered herself to rest on for a time. Trouble 
and anxiety awaited her, she knew, as soon as she 
should emerge from the haze of drowsiness that en- 
shrouded her "enses and lulled them. The world 
seemed a distant place that had little concern with 
her. So she lay quite still, with her eyes closed, and 
her mind just active enough to be conscious of inac- 
tivity. The sounds in the house stole in to her as 
through padded walls. A window was thrown open, 
a door slammed. Some one was humming. There 
was an occasional clink of spoons and teacups. 



"■fl 
I 



8o 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



Gradually the sounds grew more distinct, the know- 
ledge that disquietude impended, less alienable. 
There came the moment of effort, and Jane had 
risen, was awake (this the seeming order of events), 
and knew that she had brought about Michael's 
dismissal. 

On Sunday morning it was Jane's invariable cus- 
tom to go to church. With her mother she had always 
done so, but to-day, harassed in mind as she was, 
she felt that, lips and limbs compliant, her thoughts 
would be beyond her own control. She dressed her- 
self after she had settled her room, and went out. 

At Waterioo Station she learnt that she had missed 
one train for New Cross, and that there was not an- 
other for nearly two hours. A porter, of whom 
she made enquiry, volunteering that he lived "New 
Cross way" himself, directed her how best to get 
there. 

Her journey, as we know, was fruitless. Jane, who 
had not knocked at the door of the house in which 
Michael lodged without considerable trepidation, 
heard that he was out with feelings of blended relief 
and disappointment. The landlady did not know when 
he would be in. Jane said that it didn't matter : she 
would write ; and turned away. She could not wait 
for an indefinite return, nor could she at once make 
up her mind to repeat the expedition later in the day. 
It would be best to write. What could she have said 
to him, after all? But oh, he would have known how 
sorry she was, and now he would not know till to- 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



8l 



morrow. She had not left her name. It had not been 
asked and she had not given it The interview with 
the young woman who opened the door had lasted 
but a few seconds. Jane was too shy to prolong it, 
and she wanted to get away. She was conscious, at 
the back of her wish to see Michael, of a fear lest he 
should return and surprise her . . . 

The afternoon saw her attempts to compose a let- 
ter to him. It was a delight to find herself addressing 
him, but when she had written " Dear Mr. Seaward " 
her ideas failed her, — yet not her ideas, but words 
to express what she felt. She wanted him to know 
that she g^eved for him ; that his absence from the 
orchestra caused her personal sorrow ; that hoping 
against hope she had watched for his '• janoe, 
and, above all, that she was not in ignorai. of what 
had taken place. That took her thoughts to Curley, 
and again she thought of him without resentment 
Did she scent danger in the tendency of thus recall- 
ing him? She passed her hand over her eyes and 
looked at the sheet of paper before her. A bottle of 
ink stood in front of it, — a penny bottle with a 
chipped mouth and grooves on which to rest a pen- 
holder, — a bottle that was symbolical of her literary 
attainments. In her hand was the pen, aad the pen 
would not write. She went to the fire and knelt down 
before it. She fell into reverie as she looked at the 
heart of the glowing coals. 

In the end her letter to Michael was very short 
It told briefly that she had gone to New Cross that 






8a ELEMENTARY JANE 

morning in the hope of seeing him, to tell him how 
sorry she was to have been the cause of the trouble 
that had come upon him ; that she hoped he would 
believe how much the news of his leaving had grieved 
her ; and that for all his kindness to her she was very 
grateful to him. 

These things, in sentences strangely punctuated, 
and innocent of syntax, were embodied in the letter 
which Jane sent It was no sooner posted than she 
wished it back. It seemed so inadequate. Yet what 
to say? — what more? She wished she had waited 
to ask Mrs. Kerridge how you spelt " grieved." She 
did not think in retrospect that " greaved " looked 
right, but probably Mrs. Kerridge, who could not 
write herself, owing, as was elaborately explained, to 
a stiffness in her finger joints, would not have been 
sure. Nor was she, it transpired, when Jane asked her 
afterwards as casually as she could. Mrs. Kerridge 
declared that it was so long since she had been at 
school and never at the best of times having been 
much of a writer (" As well you know it, dear, hav- 
ing written letters for me to Phoebe this year and a 
half and more "), she could not be certain. 

" Grieved ! " she repeated ; " I don't know, I 'm 
sure, and what 'a' you got to be giieved about ? " 

"Oh, nothing," said Jane ; " I was only wondering 
— that's all." 

She went back to her room to wonder other things. 
Would Mr. Seaward write to her ? What would he 
think when her letter reached him ? She supposed 



! r 



ELEMENTARY J >E 



83 



his landlady would give it to him in the morning. 
She tried to imagine the scene. She liked the land- 
lady's face. Her voice had been pleasant, too. Jane 
could hear her saying, " A letter for you, Mr. Sea- 
ward." Would he guess who it was from before he 
opened it? Had he guessed who it was who had 
called to see him that day? Well, the letter was gone 
and she felt easier in her mind. 

Bells were ringing for evening service. Jane heard 
them, and they revived in her little instincts of piety. 
She remembered how her mother had loved tb'> sound 
of them, and with the thought of her mother came a 
wish to do what would please her. She would go to 
church. 

She dressed herself once more and went out. The 
streets were thronged with strolling people. Girls 
and their lovers, hand in hand, sauntered along the 
{lavements, girls in couples seeking lovers innocently, 
and sometimes a girl seeking lovers for bread. From 
such a one Jane, hardly understanding, shrank timidly 
as skirt brushed skirt. The public houses were busy, 
their lights shining out on to the road. Omnibuses, 
small rest for them, ran without cease, yet, out of 
respect for the day (indirect enough in probable mo- 
tive), not a conductor but was better dressed than 
usual. 

Jane walked briskly, noting all in her unconscious 
way, and making for the church to which her mother 
had oftenest gone. Not six months back she had 
walked with her along this very street. The service 



' I 



84 ELEMENTARY JAI^E 

had begun when Jane went in. She made her way 
to the free seats and sat down. Her little prayer had 
not very definite form, but her letter to Michael had 
a part in it That it might all come right was the 
gist of her petition. 



CHAPTER IX 

CURLEY Merino, thanks to the intervention of the 
law, found himself none the worse for what an even- 
ing paper called the " Fracas between a Music-Hail 
Artist and a Musician." Curley saw the paragraph 
in question, and put his finger on the word Musician. 
He spoke of a drum, raised his eyebrows, and said 
" Eh 1 " with beguiling innocence. Interrogated, he 
professed a complete (albeit twinkling) ignorance as 
to the motive of the assault that had been made 
upon him. Madame Merino indulgently dared say, 
as others had conjectured, — Nelly Chingford for 
handy example, — " that if the truth were known 
he'd been in some mischief" ; and the head of the 
troupe, the great Merino whom Curley called Father, 
put his tongue in his cheek and winked at the boy's 
mother. Strictness of discipline in the Merino family 
was reserved for all that concerned their profession. 
Perky knew what it was to have his ears boxed for 
wandering attention, and even Curley himself, to 
within the last year or two, — which, seeing his rapid 
development, had more or less emancipated him, — 
could have spoken to the efficacy of a tingling repri- 
mand. Not that one or other often had need of the 
fillip. You had only to watch them going through 
their performance to know that they loved their work. 
On the whole, the Merinos were a united family 



86 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



enough, casual and undemonstrative amongst them- 
selves, but by no means lacking in affection. Curley 
stood to a certain extent apart from the rest by virtue 
perhaps of his exceptional lieauty, and you would 
have seen that it was tacitly accepted that Curley 
should always receive more than he gave, but no 
ill-will appeared to be engendered on that account. 
Curley was Curley. That was why. Perky would 
have told you so, and Lena and Fritz. 

Perky and Lena and Fritz were in awe of Curley, 
nevertheless. A word of censure from his lips was 
more potent in its effects than a volley of abuse from 
either of theirparents, and Curley's praise they thought 
praise indeed. 

Perky was elated for a fortnight once because 
Curley had asked to be taught a peculiar elaboration 
of the common " Flap Flap " which the younger lad 
with untiring determination had worked out for him- 
self. Curley acquired the trick of it in a day and a 
half, and did not scruple to annex his brother's in- 
vention, nor by the grace of his shapeliness to give to 
it a delicacy which Perky's own performance could 
never achieve. Perky felt no envy. He looked at his 
lean limbs sometimes, and wondered whether they 
would ever fill out. 

Curley, for the temporary notoriety which attached 
to him as the result of his encounter with Michael, 
got a special round of applause on his appearance at 
the Mocha on that Saturday night, and two or three 
people wanted to drink with him. He drank with 



ELEMENTARY JANE 87 

them aW, and his cheeks were flushed in the train as 
he journeyed eastwards. Madanf ^'el•ino, easy-going 
and indolent, loolcing at his sparl-.ing eyes, experi- 
enced a sudden misgiving and was moved to say 
abruptly : — 

" Take care, my son." 

Curley laughed. 

"What 'sup?" he said. 

Lena and Fritz were alert at once and turned 
questioning looks in his direction. Merino from the 
other end of the carriage glanced at him alt.o. Perky 
was reading a penny dreadful and did not move. 
Thus he employed all his spare moments. 

"What's the matter with you?" said Curley col- 
lectively. 

" Never mind," said his mother. 

" Then what did you say ' Take care,' for? " 

" Never mind," said his mother again. " But ' take 
care ' I do say." 

She fell into silence and two little upright lines ap- 
peared presently in her forehead. Merino applied a. 
match to his pipe and made no com.nent. Perky un- 
folded his periodical, turned ever a page and folded 
it again to a small square. Originally to facilitate its 
speedy transference to or from the pocket of his coat, 
this folding of the literature • \ which he fed a raven- 
ous imagination had become a matter of habit. He 
could not read from an open sheet. Lena and Fritz 
continued an interrupted discussion on the demerits 
of a performance that had preceded their own. 



88 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



Curley had thcjughts which he kept to himself. 
With his legs stretched out and his head thrown back 
and a smile playing about his lips, he ruminated at 
his ease. The head that rested against the wooden 
panels of the carriage was full of projects. The rosy 
glow of wine tinted them. Curley found the world a 
good place enough, but he fancied he could make it 
a better. Anyway he meant to try. His eyes were 
half closed, and he opened them presently and looked 
round at the others. 

He looked at his mother first. The light flickered 
upon her ulster and showed the wearing at the seams. 
It showed, too, an over-ripeness in her face and form. 
At forty Madame Merino was in truth a woman 
whose good looks had clung to her with wonderful 
fidelity and whose limbs were marvellously agile. A 
placid temperament and a good constitution had 
combined to keep wrinkles from her cheeks, but time 
was setting its mark upon her, none the less. She 
had not yet diminished aught of her share in the per- 
formance, but at this moment tl.ere revealed itself to 
Curley in recollection a sense of the unsuitableness 
of certain feats which it fell to her to execute. Curley 
had no fine feelings. He did not dismiss this thought 
as one that offended susceptibilities. He regarded it 
critically, and turned to the head of the family. 

Merino p%re, known as " Monze," — the witting or 
unwitting, the playful or deliberate, perversion of the 
abbreviated " Monsieur," — was a man of somewhat 
large build. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 89 

He had a round face and a head of the bullet order, 
with hair that grew evenly to a peak in the middle 
of his forehead — a fact that had suggested to him, 
graduating as he had done at a time when foreign 
appellations were thought of advantage, the adopting 
of the French prefix to his foreign name. In his early 
days he had been a circus performer, and there were 
few things, that came indirectly under the head of 
his calling, to which he was not able to turn his hand. 
As a boy he had been equally at home on the bar 
and the high trapeze. 

Now, his body showed a tendency to stoutness 
which only the constant exercise of his pre ession 
kept under. A few months of enforced idler s and 
he would have found himself hampered by super- 
abundant flesh. That he did not find himself .50 
hampered spoke to the man's strength of character. 
In a shifty world you could count on Monze Merino. 
His managers said so. What he promised, that he 
did. 

But he had never had engagements of the first 
rank, and he had not been ill-contented with his lot. 

Perky, on whom Curley's glance rested next, had 
talent of an order that was not to be overlooked. His 
inventiveness was surprising, and he had the infinite 
capacity for taking pains that has been exalted into 
the definition of a rare attribute, indeed. There was 
promise in Perky, and Curiey respected his abilities. 
But Perky was not ornamental. He was lank and 
unfinished. 



' S 



90 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



The callow Lena,. a trifle angular, and the impish 
Fritz, completed a troupe that lacked uniformity. 
Curley knew why the appearances of the Famous 
Merino Family were confined to the smaller halls. 
Monze and Madame, Perky, Lena, Fritz, and he 
would never figure together in the bills at the Empire 
or Pavilion or Tivoli. He thought of a troupe he had 
seen at the Alhambra — artists not superior to Perky 
or himself, but a delight to the eye for accord and 
proportion. Regularity, balance, form, without these 
there could be no real success. 

He went through his second performance in a 
dream. The hall known as " Rawlinses " in the Mile 
End Road had a rougher audience than that at the 
Mocha. Curley, piercing the haze of his preoccupa- 
tion, noted vaguely the commonness of his surround- 
ings. Gold was tarnished. Looking-glasses were 
mottled. The house was dingy as the people who 
filled it 

Monze did not appear to mind, nor Madame, who 
took everything as it came, nor Perky, nor Lena, nor 
Fritz. They did not seem out of place either. 

Curley, while he waited for his turn upon the bar, 
lost himself in reverie. He looked back and saw the 
gfradual forming of the troupe. Merino and a partner 
since dead had made the nucleus of it. To these two, 
the one marrying, had been added Curley's mother ; 
and the children, as their years and the law permitted 
them, had made their individual appearances. He 
looked ahead. There was no future for a combination 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



91 



such as this. Five years hence it would be pwrformingr 
still in small and outlying halls . . . 

If it held together . . . 

Lena and Fritz had bounded to the ground and 
were bowing. The sound of clapping filtered slowly 
into Curley's consciousness. It was his turn once 
more, and he swung himself lightly up on to the bar, 
where hs sat for a moment surveying the shabby 
house while he rubbed his hands on a handkerchief 
drawn from his belt. Then he began his clean and 
graceful performance. He was swinging through the 
air now — a living wheel that changed from time to 
time the direction of its turning. A momentary verti- 
cal poising, a quick fall, and he had slung himself up 
to a sitting posture, to slip thence and hang from the 
knees for a brief space before lending his supple body 
to some new exploit. A wonderful ease and deftness 
marked his movements and illumined them. The rest 
of the family always watched him. They may not 
have been conscious of so doing, but the fact did not 
escape. He knew his work was good, and might well 
know it. 

Perky was with him now on the bar. The two wove 
strange and beautiful patterns that left no record in 
the air. A double somersault, and they were bowing 
to a volley of applause. 

Curley had another drink on his way home. Ma- 
dame Merino frowned when he lagged behind the 
rest as they passed a public house. She turned and 
called to him : — 



9a ELEMENTARY JANE 

" You don't want anything before your supper," 
she said. " Come along home, there 's a good boy." 

" In a minute," said Curley. 

"No. Now." 

" I '11 be in before supper's ready." 

But Curley did not come in to supp>er at all. His 
mother commented upon the fact to her husband, who 
shrugged his shoulders. 

" It 's his family history I 'm thinking of," she said. 
A remark which caused Lena to prick up her ears. 

Madame Merino saw her alertness, and bade her 
sharply eat her supper. 

" I don't want any more." 

"Then you can go to bed, my dear." 

" Not straightaway top of eating," said Lena. " I 
don't want to make my nose red." 

" Off you pack," said Madame Merino, "and don't 
let me havrto tell y" twice." 

Lena grumbled and rose. Perky and Fritz soon 
followed suit 

" You might say a word to him when he comes 
in," Madame Merino said to Monze as she left the 
room. 

Curley came in presendy. But he was master of 
his tongue and his gait, and Merino forbore to re- 
prove him. He looked at the boy steadily, neverthe- 
less. Curley was not abashed. You could not abash 
Curley so. 

"Well, I '11 turn in," he said. "Good-night" 

" Good-night," said Merino shortly. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 93 

Curley sat on the edge of his bed for some minutes 
before he began to undress. Perky and Fritz shared 
his room. Nor was it much of a place, he said to him- 
self. But the future was still glowing. He was young, 
and that was glorious. Life was before him, and he 
meant to live. He gave a litde laugh. 

Perky raised himself on his elbow. Fritz was half 
asleep. 

" Nothing," said Curley, " nothing. You lie down." 

Perky obeyed at once. He was used to not being 
told thingfs. Curley had never handed his thoughts 
round. 

Merino came up the stairs with his quick, elastic 
tread, and presently sounds ceased in the house. The 
rumble of traffic was growing less continuous in the 
street Curley's head nodded, and he fell into slum- 
ber. He dreamt that he was performing at the Em- 
pire to a house that watched him breathlessly. He 
could see and feel a thousand eyes upon him. He 
seemed to be by himself. Monze and his mother and 
Perky and Lena and Fritz were amongst those who 
looked on and applauded him. They were there, but 
a long way off, and divided from him by the foot- 
lights. Ue thought he heard them telling how he 
had once been one of them, and he thought he smiled 
at them pityingly. He had risen to fame ; they had 
sunk to obscurity. 

And then the bar upon which he was performing 
broke with a crash, and Curley woke. 



11!: 



CHAPTER X 

Jane's letter reached Michael safely and filled him 
with happiness. He read it through many times, and 
if the mistakes in her spelling did not wholly escape 
his notice, they did nut make him love what she had 
written the less, but rather, as expressing her child- 
ishness and inexperience and simplicity, the more. 

Yet (fate pleasing grimly to seize upon trifles for 
agents) the shortcomings of poor Jane's orthography 
had their share in deciding the issue of that which 
had begun for Michael on the night of Jane's first 
appearance, and for Jane herself at the moment when, 
having seen them before, she met and read the eyes 
of the drum. Nor were other issues uninvolved ; and, 
by hazard, since the exact results of any one action 
cannot be determined, it may be that the fact that 
Jane spelt " grieved " with an c and an a, and " sorry " 
with one r had its part in setding the destinies of peo- 
ple the littie scribe had never seen nor heard of. 

Be which as it may, at this point Michael was 
induced to take a step which removed him from 
the immediate scheme of Jane's life, and on this 
wise: — 

Having carried her letter over his heart in a pocket 
from which he had drawn it to read it again in the 
room behind the music shop while he waited for his 
pupil, and, all through the lesson that followed, with 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



95 



intervals of recalling a wandering mind, having de- 
liberated how he should answer it, he decided to 
write and take the letter to Little Petwell Street, 
there to be guided by circumstance whether or not 
he should ask to see Jane. That day he would have 
to look for employment, but the matter of the letter 
seemed far more pressing. He longed to see Jane, 
yet shrank from forcing himself upon her. 

From the music shop and a pupil of more than 
usual stupidity (or so it seemed to him), Michael went 
back to his room to write. He wrote glibly a sheet, 
two sheets — and tore them up. Not so must he give 
himself rein. He sat then looking vacantly at the 
paper before him. Presently he shook himself free of 
the inertness that had followed the check upon his 
activity, and began to write once more. It was a 
staid and a chastened pen then that thanked Jane 
for her thought of the writer and begged her not to 
be distressed on his account. If he regretted his 
action, it was for its futility and not for the conse- 
quences, such as they were, to himself. This in so 
many words was the substance of the letter he was 
writing when Mrs. Sands came to his door to an- 
nource a gentleman to see him. 

Michael looked at her absently. 

Mrs. Sands repeated her statement, adding, " Shall 
I ask him to come up ? Mr. Atherton, I think the 
name was." 

Michael started to his feet, and hurried down to 
the front door, passing his landlady on the way. 



96 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



Mr. Atherton held out his hand to Michael, who 
grasped it. 

In the changes and chances of life master and pu- 
pil had not met since their parting at Birmingham, 
but an intermittent correspondence had been main- 
tained between diem. A threatening of consumption, 
happily no longer active, had kept Mr. Atherton 
abroad for the greater portion of the time that 
had elapsed since then, but the last couple of 
years, having seen his complete restoration to 
health, had enabled him to accept and hold an 
appointment of some importance in connection 
with a College of Music at Manchester. Thence he 
came now. 

" This is good of you, sir," Michael said, flushing 
with pleasure. 

" It is good to see you again, Michael." 

" Come in, sir." 

He led the way to his room, where he pulled for- 
ward the wicker chair, and invited Mr. Atherton to sit 
down. 

" Let me look at you first." 

Mr. Atherton took a long look at the young man 
whom he had left a lad. Michael stood the survey 
well. He was never awkward. 

"Yes, I know you," Mr. Atherton said slowly: 
"you haven't changed really. I sometimes feared 
you might You haven't You were a boy — you're 
a man, but you 're Michael still." 

Michael looked pleased. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



97 



" How are you, sir 7 " he said, — "as well, I hope, 
as you look." 

" Quite well, thank God." 

FT 1 became preoccupied for a moment, his eyes 
wandering round the room and back to Michael. 

" And this is where you live," he said then, and 
paused. " The fact is," he said, a moment later, and 
with a smile that took Michael back to the old days 
at Birmingham, " I am finding it a litde bit difficult 
now to account — to myself, I believe, rather than 
to you — for the fact that we have not met all these 
years. Yet I have never lost my interest in you and 
all that concerns you. You must take that from me, 
Michael, though I have never come to see you be- 
fore. First I was ill, as you know. Then I stayed 
abroad for precaution, but there are nearly eighteen 
months that I have been in England. It is true that 
I have hardly been in London at all. I am a very busy 
man, and my present duties keep me pretty closely 
tied to Manchester. But I might have been to see 
you, and I have n't I just have n't, and I don't know 
how that has happened. Here I am, however, at last, 
and if you are one half as glad to see ms as I am to 
see you — why, there are two people who are very 
glad, indeed, to see each other again." 

" I can't say how glad I am," Michael said. 

" I want to hear all about you — everything. Sit 
down and tell me." 

Mr. Atherton's eyes fell on Michael's fiddle. 

" Music," he said. " It 's still music." 



li i j 



98 ELEMENTARY JANE 

" Still music," said Michael. He reached down his 
violin and held it towards his friend. " You remem- 
ber, Mr. Atherton." 

"So you've kept it all these years." 

He took the violin from Michael and looked at it 
as one looks at an old acquaintance. Then the itch 
of the musician to hear the thing speak seized him 
and he stretched out his hand for the bow. 

" Ah, play," said Michael, jumping up and taking 
down the bow. " Play." 

Presently sound filled the iitde room and illtmiined 
it as sunlight gilds a landscape. 

"Don't stop," said Michael; but Mr. Atherton 
smiled and shook his head. 

" Can you s(>are this day to me ? I want to see as 
much as possible of you. There 's lost time to make 
up between us, and I am only in town till to-morrow. 
You 're engaged in the evening, are n't you ? " 

" Not now." 

"But the music-hall you told me about — and, by 
the bye, must it be a music-hall 7 I fear a little for 
my pupil's taste. You showed a very promising dis- 
crimination as a boy, Michael — " 

"It — has to be what it can," Michael answered; 
" b'lt it is n't even a music-hall now." 

The story was soon told. Jane was incidental in 
it, and Mr. Atherton looked at Michael searchingly. 
But he did not say just then what was in his mind. 
That which had attracted him to Michael in the first 
instance was momentarily regaining its power. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



99 



"And the lessons?" 

" There was only one to give to-day. It is over." 

"What had you meant to do?" 

Michael glanced at the table whereon lay Jane's 
letter and the letter he had been writing when Mrs. 
Sands came to tell him of his visitor. Mr. Atherton 
followed the direction of his eyes. 

" I meant to look for another engagement" 

" You were applying for something ? " 

"Applying?" 

" Writing, I mean, about some post." 

" Oh, no. I was writing to — a friead, that was all." 

There was a moment's pause. 

"I was answering Miss Tandem's letter — she 
blames herself for what happened." 

"Tandem," said Mr. Atherton, "that's an odd 
name." 

" Miss Jenny Tandem — it 's her professional name." 

It conjured up before Mr. Atherton the present- 
ment of a type of woman sufficiently unlike litde 
Jane I It would have been difficult to choose a tide 
more misleading, and Mr. Atherton was not to be 
misjudged if he thought of raciness and a jaunty 
laxity. Michael's explanation that Jenny Tandem 
masked an actual Jane Smith did not (in the light of 
that which Mr. Atherton had pictured to himself) 
serve to prejudice him any the more in the young 
lady's favour. In which matter was fate unkind. 

" Miss Jenny Tandem holds herself the cause of 
what resulted in your dismissal ? " 



too BLBMBNTARY JANS 

Michael hesitated for a moment and held out ]ane't 
letter. In import, its simplicity should have prevailed 
over its errors — would have done so to an unbiassed 
mind, and to the mind of Mr. Atherton himself under 
circumstances other than those that ruled the mo- 
ment But the fatal suggestions that hung round the 
word music-hall in its relative connection, added to 
the sinister conclusions he had drawn from the name, 
combined to conspire against our harmless Jane. 

The ignorant little letter confirmed his impression. 
It was the one visible, tangible thing there was to 
represent the unknown Jane, and it did its fell work 
adequately. 

The torn pieces of Michael's first letter were lying 
on the table. It was imfKtssible not to deduce fresh 
inferences from such evidence. The lover's letter — 
the letter of the lover who begins to love, at least — 
is proverbially a letter written and rewritten. Ashes 
and fragments tell their tale of indecision. Too bold, 
too cold, and flames or rending 1 Mr. Atherton looked 
at Michael ag^ain. 

" Can you wait a day to look for a new engage- 
ment?" 

" Yes," said Michael. " One day won't make much 
difference." 

" Then spend this day with me. Do you care for 
pictures? We might go to the National Gallery. We 
will lunch somewhere first" 

Michael scarcely knew what to say, and said so. 

" Nonsense. Shall we start at once?" 



iBLBMBNTARY JANB loi 

"Can you wait while I change?" 

The suit Michael was wearing — a dark frieze suit 
of unobtrusive pattern and cut — was not in its first 
youth, but it was neat and became him well, in it, 
and, indeed, in whatever he wore, his app xrance 
belied his station. His clean-shaven face and a 
thoughtfulness that characterized his expression g^ve 
him something of the look that marks a barrister, 
and his clothes in no way precluded such an impres- 
sion being formed of him. By which token it may be 
noticed here as a small thing, but significant, that 
Mrs. Sands and her husband, and people of less re- 
finement to boot, were impelled to call Michael " sir." 

" Come as you are," said Mr. Atherton. 

So Michael, when he had plunged his face in 
water and attended to his hands and his hair, 
did no more than put on a clean collar and another 
tie ; and Mr. Atherton, looking at him glowing from 
the towel and the brush, felt, with that almost paren- 
tal affection which Michael had always inspired in 
him, that of such a son he would have been justly 
proud. Not, be it said, that Mr. Atherton, who was 
barely forty, could have been Michael's father. 

But when Michael was ready so far as his toilet 
was concerned, he begged Mr. Atherton to pardon 
yet a few more minutes' delay. He could not bear 
that Jane «hould think that an hour was lost in an- 
swering her letter. His own would have to be posted 
now, but that perhaps was best. . . . 

Mr. Atherton took down a book from Michael's 



loa ELEMENTARY JANE 

•helves. The slightest frown lined his forehead. He 
heard the travelling of Michael's pen — with inter- 
mittent pauses (there seemed to be but a sentence or 
two to add) ; then the folding of the sheet of paper ; 
another pause following: the writer was rei»ding 
« he had written; a faint sigh, and the sound 
again of the pen, this time on the envelope. Now 
Michael was closing his letter, and now had risen 
and was waiting. 

Mr. Atherton shut the book, and five minutes later 
the two men left the house. 

It was a day for Michael to remember. The lunch 
at a quiet restaurant in companionship with an edu- 
cati>d man was fraught for him with delightful im- 
pressions. He experienced, at fiut, a little nervous- 
ness, but by nature he was fastidious, and when, by 
observing Mr. Atherton neither furtively nor with ob- 
vious intent to imitate, he saw that what came natu- 
rally to him in his mode of eating and drinking was 
apparently in accord with the accepted manner of 
performing these functions, he took courage to give 
himself up to the happiness of the hour. Again, as 
he had felt dimly in Greenwich Park, Michael began 
to know what life might hold. Under the spell of 
well-being his sou! seemed to expand. Mr. Atherton 
looked at him with manifest pleasure, and thought 
of the young woman into whose toils he was like to 
fall — Miss Jenny Tandem, forsooth, the plebeian Jane 
Smith who had written the ill-spelt letter — and said 
to himself, " The pity of it I " later (crediting Jane with 



BLBMENTARY JANS 



103 



the wish to ensnare), " The infamy of it " ; later again, 
as one who determines to foil nefarious design, " It 
must not be I " 

Lunch over, they wallced round to the National 
Gallery, a place which Michael had frequently visited 
before, but never under such happy conditions as 
those that marked this visit and this day. Mr. Ather- 
ton had something^ to say of each picture and painter. 
He subjected Michael's critical faculties to small tests, 
and found, as he expected, intelligence and an appre- 
ciation that was finely selective. With education, he 
said to himself, what might not be made of this young 
man, were it not for the millstones bestrewing his 
prth, and the neck so ready to receive them ? A knot, 
thought Mr. Atherton, and, for the promising Michael, 
the bottom of the sea where dead men's limbs are 
washed this way and that, and whence there is no 
rising. It must not be I 

Michael, having mentioned Jane as we have seen, 
said, however, no more about her. That he thought 
of her in his present happiness is none the less true. 
He read her into more than one picture. A child by 
Greuze had her inexperience, a madonna by Botticelli 
her innocence, a landscape by Constable her sim- 
plicity. Mr. Atherton, on his part, might have found 
semblances of his imagination of her in widely differ- 
ent subjects : in a Bacchanalian scene by N icolas Pous- 
sin her irresponsibility ; in the Money Changers of 
Teniers her pitilessness ; in women of Rubens her 
coarseness— forgetting that Michael, as Michael, the 



M 



104 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



Michael he loved, would be attracted by none of these 
things. 

By this time he was revolving a scheme in his 
mind. He did not mention it at once. 

"You'll dine with me," he said — "quietly, as it is 
called : I shan't dress ; and we '11 see if we can get in 
at one of the theatres." 

Michael wished nothing better than an evening 
with his friend. 

In due time they were seated at a small table in a 
restaurant, where you could dine as you would or 
you were, and Michael did not feel ill-dressed. The 
table Mr. Atherton chose was one of many in a circu- 
lar gallery whence you could see the hall below filled 
with other diners. It was a new world to Michael. 
To-morrow he would return to the old. For him, as 
for Cinderella, a clock would presently strike. Mean- ' 
while, however, he was alert to all that was hap- 
pening around him, and once more receiving im- 
pressions as sand the record of ripples on an ebbing 
tide. 

Mr. Atherton led him to speak of himself and his 
prospects. 

Michael shook his head at the last . . . 

" But I have wanted employment before," he said, 
" and found it. I suppose something will come." 

" You wish definitely to make music your profes- 
sion — in one branch or another?" 

" If I car. Mr. Atherton. I shall look out for an- 
other engagement somewhere. I can get along with 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



105 



that and the lessons I give. I advertise in a couple 
of papers from time to time and I get pupils." 

Michael paused and smiled. 

" It must seem odd to you, sir, my having anything 
to teach." 

" On the contrary, you were an apt learner." 

Michael fell into silence. There was a point of red 
light shining like a ruby near his plate, where the 
light struck through the claret in his glass on to the 
tablecloth, and on this flaming point his eyes rested. 
Its generous beauty seemed symbolical of the colours 
that had tinted this day. If Jane could have shared 
in his joy, he thought. 

But fate and Mr. Atherton were thinking other- 



It 



" Michael, have you any ties to keep you to Lon- 
don?" 

"Ties?" 

He looked up. 

" No engagement ? No thought of hampering your- 
self with a wife ? " 

He did not answer for a moment. Then he said, 
" I 'm not in a position to think of a wife, sir." 

But he flushed as he spoke, and Mr. Atherton 
knew, as well as if Michael had said so, that his 
thoughts went careering in the track of the letter he 
had posted that morning. 

Coffee was brought presently, and cigarettes. 

" Are you studying at all?" 

" As best I can. I try to teach myself." 



1: 

i 



106 ELEMENTARY JANE 

" You wish to learn." 

"Oh, yes." 

Mr. Atherton took a cigarette and lit it He seemed 
to be thinldng something out. He smoked very slowly; 
Michael more quickly, as one accustomed to a pipe. 

" Then come to Manchester," Mr. Atherton said at 
last ; " I can give you work and lessons." 



CHAPTER XI 

A MONTH back Michael could have jumped at such 
a chance as this. Now he was loth to tear himself 
from London which had taken to itself, anxious as 
was his life, such a charm as no other place could 
have for him. There haa been times when he 
had hated its mercUess streets and its cheerless 
skies. 

Yet if he stayed? 

The wonderful evening was over. He had seen 
Mr. Atherton Kack to his hotel after the play, and 
was to take a day to consider his proposal. If he 
went, he was to go as soon as might be. 

To go or stay ? He lay awake living again through 
the day of strange things and trying to come to a de- 
cision. The advantages of Mr. Atherton's offer we-a 
incontestable. In the first place, there was Mr. Ather- 
ton himself. Michael had never forgotten his first 
friend. To be with him had always seemed to him 
as happy a state as could be imagined. Thereto — 
proximity to his master — was added the promise of 
employment and of such opportunities of study as 
would be to his lasting benefit. His edu ition was 
woehilly meagre. The prospect of leam.ng under 
such a master as Mr. Atherton was one to open up 
prospects, indeed. 
But against his accepting was the thought of re- 



io8 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



moving himself from the (>ossibility of an occasional 
glimpse of Jane. 

Yet, yet, yet, — if he stayed ? 

What chance had he, ignorant aiid without inter- 
est, of making for himself such a position as would 
even insure to him freedom from care for the neces- 
sities of life 7 Without this the future could promise 
him little. 

Merciless indecision tortured him. The rack pulled 
him this way and that. That the responsibility of the 
choice might rest in some degree with chance or the 
powers that be, he made a semblance of employing 
the hours that were allowed him for deliberation, in 
a tentative search for an appointment in town. He 
went up to the little hall at Islington where he had 
once had a short engagement The orchestra was 
complete, as he had expected. He went then to the 
conductor of a small band playing for dances and 
the like in which he had filled a place for a week 
when he first came up to London. In this it hap- 
pened that he could have found a billet. He had 
known that he could always earn a living, and no 
serious fear on this score had assailed i im. A revul- 
sion of feeling at the thought of the future he would 
be sacrificing immediately seized him. He rejected 
what he had sought ami went home. This meant 
that he had made his choice. Yet he did not write, 
to Mr. Atherton till the last minute. 

By return of post came a letter applauding his de- 
cision, and enclosing in advance of such saliiry as 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



109 



he had offered a cheque for a quarter's term. With 
part of this, Michael got what outfit he needed and 
generally settled up his affairs. 

He was in doubtful spirits as he made his final 
arrangements. The few pupils he had were easily 
disposed of. To those of them who had paid for 
their lessons beforehand, he returned that which was 
owing ; and he parted with all on good terms. 

Mrs. Sands heard with genuine regret that he was 
leaving her. She had never had a lodger who had 
given less trouble. His consideration of her had not 
missed recognition. 

Mr. Atherton (with the noisy, shameless, — pos- 
sibly shameful, — vulgar, ignorant, and fatally allur- 
ing Jenny Tandem in mind) urged an early date for 
Michael's coming. Michael acquiesced. 

There was nothing to be gained by waiting, and 
he fixed a day for his going. He had written to Jane 
to tell her of the change in his plans, and it only 
remained for him to say good-bye to her — and to 
keep silence on all else that he would say. For what 
right had he to tell her the thing that clamoured to 
be told ? 

But before he spoke to her, he must see her once 
unseen. He spent his last evening but one in the 
gallery at the Camberwell Palace, and waited in a 
fever of impatience, and apprehension, too, for her 
appearing. She appeared. She was like a little child. 
She was like a white flower. He leant heavily upon 
the rail and forgot his motley sun undings. 



no ELEMENTARY JANE 

He would not speak to her to-night. That he would 
keep for to-morrow's sad pleasure. But he might be 
near her without her knowledge. 

He left the gallery and went round to the back of 
the building, and stood in the darkness till she came 
out Then, keeping in the shadow of the houses, he 
followed her to the open street. 

He went home restless and unhappy. The sight 
of her and the sound of her voice had made it ten- 
fold harder for him to leave the town that held her. 
He knew that he had loved his master exceedingly, 
but the glimpse of Jane could make his image indis- 
tinct He spent a night of sighing and strange pain. 

The next day he packed the few things that be- 
longed to him. His wicker chair he decided must be 
left behind, experiencing as he did so no littie regret 
The acquiring of it had marked a period of seeming 
prosperity in his fortunes, and it was associated in 
his mind with much that endeared it to him. When 
once it had been represented by a pawn ticket, he 
had felt like one who has a friend or a brother im- 
prisoned and waiting his ransom, until the day that 
saw it back in its accustomed place. He gave it to 
Mrs. Sands. She demurred about taking it, and only 
consented to accept it on condition that Michael 
should have it back whenever he returned to London. 

"And your room, too, Mr. Seaward. If ever you 
want it again, you shall have it whoever goes with- 
out I don't care who takes it, out he shall turn. 
That 's what we think of you here, sir." 



Ill' 



ELEMENTARY JANE 

Michael could not but be touched. 

"I've been very happy with you," he said, and 
knew then, as by a revelation, that it was true. Was 
happiness always a retrospective thing? And was 
that one of life's lessons ? 

He wished for the evening, and strained towards 
it as if by will he would push time behind him. Yet 
he dreaded its coming. At the best, it would bring 
him keenest suffering. He thought of the night and 
the morrow with a shudder. Then he was assailed 
by the fear lest anything should happen to prevent 
his seeing Jane. Suppose she should not be at the 
hall that evening! Music-hall artists often failed to 
put in an appearance, and others filled their place. 
She had been at her post on the previous night. 
What had hindered him to join her then? Nothing 
but the desperate wish to kee^, that last meeting with 
her in reserve ; and now, perhaps, he would be cheated 
of it Fate loved such sorry jesK 

It was with an anxiety that he could scarcely con- 
trol that, some hours later, Michael stood in the gal- 
lery watching for Jane's turn. Variety was the order 
of the house, and many changes had taken place in 
the programme since he had left the orchestra. Lilla 
of the Hazardous Wire no longer caused Camberwell 
to bate its breath. A tedious sketch was new to 
Michael, — or had been new to him the night before, 
— and a couple of musical clowns and a ventriloquist 
replaced other performers who had left. But Jane 
was still in the bills. 



iia 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



He saw her mistily at first, so agitated was he, but 
by the time she had reached the refrain of her first 
verse and the house was beginning to sway to the 
insidious rhythm of its cheap cadences, Michael was 
under his own control. The song af)art from the 
singer must have shown itself banal enough, but it 
never appeared so to him. In truth, he never thought 
of it apart from her. 

She employed little gesture as she sang, and in this 
respect her method differed considerably from that 
of most singers. Inexperience, it was probable, was 
acrountable for a thing that marked her out from the 
rest Michael did not take it wholly for conscious art 
He accepted it rather as indicative of Jane's good 
taste. Simplicity was the keynote of her character. 

When Jane had done her dance, Michael left the 
hall. He wanted to carry away with him the memor}° 
of her as he had just seen her. It was a wrench to tear 
himself from his place w ile yet she was to reappear, 
and he knew that afterwards he would be sorry as 
well as glad that he had done so ; but he wished noth- 
ing to mar his last impression of her. To have stayed 
for her second song that night would have seemed 
disloyal to her. He knew that she did not understand 
its lax significance, and that she had been taught to 
sing it as certain birds are taught to speak (for which 
he loved her), but he knew also that memory plays 
strange tricks. He would think of her as a child and 
a white flower. 

He descended the stone stairs, and noted vaguely 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



113 



that they were damp. A woman holding three or- 
anges was sitting on the lowest step. Her shawl was 
sprinkled with drops of water. He shook his head as 
she proffered her wares. She stumbled to her feet and 
followed him to the door, where an exclamation of 
dismay broke from him, and he stood still. 

"Yes, it's rainin'," said the woman, "come on 'ard 
a good hour ago. I 'm wet through, that 's what I 
am." 

"Rain," said Michael. "Rain!" as if he did not 
believe his eyes. 

"Looks like it," said the orange-seller senten- 
tiously. 

Michael glanced up and down the street. The 
pavements were shining where lights fell upon them. 

The woman took up her grumbling. 

" Wet through, I am," she said again, though it 
was not true, for she had sat in more or less undis- 
turbed shelter since the beginning of the shower. 

" Wet through a»</ through, and not a orange have 
I sold to-night. It 's very 'ard as a poor woman can't 
earn a honest livin', try 'ow she may. I 've slaved 
an' slaved, an' my 'usband 's a brute beast as lays at 
'ome, an' I got to keep 'im. Work I Not 'im. 'E won't 
stir a foot except it 's to raise it to me or the poor 
little children. Ca'' 'imself a man! They're beasts, 
all of 'em, and you might 'ave a orange off me to 
buy a bit of bread." 

She rambled on, and became a widow. 

In short, she pleaded lamely. 



114 ELEMENTARY JANE 

" But the price of half a pint," she said, and " for 
luck," 

"Whose?" said Michael. He told himself he had 
none, and loolced at the steady rab. 

"Whose what?" 

"Whose luck?" 

" Why, yours, my sonny. I 'm past it But beer I 
can taste still, praise Gawd, and I '11 drink /r 'ealth 
like a lady, and the 'ealth of your sweetheart, too." 

A bought and maudlin blessing seemed better than 
none to Michael just then, and with the orange-seller's 
benedictions ringing in his ears he went round to the 
back of the house to wait the coming of Jane. 

A shabby one-horsed brougham was standing at 
the door. The driver with a pipe in his mouth was 
talking to the stage doorkeeper loudly. The horse's 
head drooped in the rain, and now and then the ani- 
mal lifted a foot patiently. 

Jane was long in appearing. 

Michael, under the wall opposite, wished the 
brougham would move away. It blocked his view, as 
it stood, with the rain beating upon it, between him 
and the door he had come to watch. He began to 
hate the scratched panels that showed the beating of 
the rain. He began to hate the common coachman 
with his strident voice. 

Ah, the rain, the rain I 

He had hoped Jane would walk, perhaps, the 
greater part of the way home. He had thought that 
in the nUldness of the night the pace might be slow, 



ELEMENTARY JANE 115 

and 10 the walk prolonged. Now he did not dare to 
think how matters would arrange themselves. He 
only thought to himself how much he hated the 
brougham. It stood for a type of the things that 
baulked his desire 



CHAPTER XII 



Jane meanwhile was not, as may be supposed, un- 
moved by the news of Michael's intended departure. 
She cherished his two letters for solace and read 
them for what she fancied lurked between the lines. 
She had watched the time for his going approach 
with heart as well as sense alert. The exact day she 
did not know. He spoke of the end of a certain week. 
He would come to say good-bye. Surely he would 
come — surely — surely . . . 

So much did she count on, knowing Michael. On 
the night that was his last, she, ignorant that it was 
indeed his last and as ignorant that he was present, 
thought she had sung well, and would have beer 
happy but for the sorrow she was nursing. She was 
about to go home when she heard of the rain. 

" Cats and dogs," said her informant, the redoubt- 
able Nelly Chingford. " How do you go, dear ? " 

Jane told her. 

Miss Chingford was singing at the Kictropolitan 
and the Canterbury as well as the little hall in Cam- 
berwell, and what she called her Bro'ham was wait- 
ing. 

" I '11 drop you if you like," she said good- 
naturedly. " It won't be much out of my way. Non- 
sense, my dear, I 'd like to." 

Jane then accepted the kindness gratefully. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



"7 



She stood back at the door of the carriage. 

" Jump In, my dear." 

She obeyed. The window next which she seated 
herself was strealced and studded with rain, so that it 
was impossible to see through it very clearly. Some 
one came across the road. Jane caught her breath. 
She fancied . . . she could not be sure . . . 

But at this moment her companion stepped in with 
a rustle of skirts, and almost before the door was 
shut they were off. 

"What are you looking at?" Miss Chingford 
asked as she settled herself. 

Jane drew back from the window. 

" Nothing — a man in the rain." 

She could with difficulty collect her thoughts. If 
that should be Michael I Almost she was urged to 
say, " Oh, I must stop. I must get out — " words 
which she rehearsed to herself but did not speak. 
How could she explain? Moreover, the driver 
whipped up, and the horse, accustomed to work 
against time, responded to the lash. Too late, 
thought Jane, too late I And if it were not Michael I 
And if, indeed, it were, what then ? She sat in chaf- 
ing misery while the carriage bore her away. 

Nelly Chingford talked, and the unhappy Jane 
tried to listen. But she could not, and her answers 
were sometimes incoherent, and sometimes wide of 
the mark. She felt like one in a cage, and, as another 
had done before her, she conceived an exceeding 
hatred of the carriage itself. More than once she was 



111 



ii8 ELEMENTARY JANE 

minded to throw appearances to the winds and tell 
Miss Chingford everything. Oh, to be afoot, to be 
afoot I 

Yet what good to be afoot? If she went baclc, 
Michael would be gone. For it had been Michael. 
She was sure of it — knew it now that the know- 
ledge could profit her nothing. 

"Oh," she said inwardly, and "Oh," and "Oh," 
and " Oh." 

Nelly Chingford, vaguely conscious of a disturbing 
element, peered at her in the darkness once or twice. 
As the carriage neared Little Petwell Street, Jane 
roused herself with an effort. She had been leaning 
back in her comer and as she sat up the lights of 
a public house flashed upon her pale face and her 
companion saw the trace of tears. 

In a moment Miss Chingford's arms were about 
her. 

"Why did n't you tell me, littie girl? You 're in 
some trouble and I did n't know, and here I 've been 
chattering all the time." 

"It's nothing," said Jane — " nothing that any 
one can help." 

She cried a little with Miss Chingford's arms 
tightly round her and Miss Chingford's voice whis- 
pering tenderly in her ear, and felt better. 

" Bat I won't," thought Nelly Chingford to herself. 
"It's a shame and I won't. She shall tell me only 
what she wants to. Poor little kid ! " 

So, though she burned with curiosity, she asked 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



119 



no question either then or at any subsequent time — 
a thing that I have always thought showed the stuff 
that the woman who callc i iic:sfif "The Joy of Lon- 
don" and sang of lax mo als was inac'^i of. 

The carriage stopped. lane saw that she had 
reached home. She thankea hei friend and kissed 
her, and then, as she stood at the door fumbling for 
her key, the coachman impatient to get to bed drove 
on. Nelly Chingford kissed her hand to her from the 
carriage window. 

Jane opened the door and went in. No sooner had 
she done so, and sick at heart was standing in the 
gloomy passage, than there fell upon her ears the 
sound of running steps ringing upon the pavement 
outside. The sound increased in intensity as the run- 
ner approached, and then it stopped dead at the door 
she had just shut Jane listened, and as she stood 
still the chain she had been about to adjust slipped 
from her hand and rattled — on the happening of 
which a movement outside was to be heard at once 
and then a faint tapping upon the door. 

She did not move. 

The tapping was repeated, and a little louder. 

It had been arranged that Jane, as the last at this 
time to come in, should fasten the hall door unless 
a light was burning in the passage, when it was to 
be understood that another of the inmates of the 
house was still abroad. There were three other sets 
of lodgers besides herself — a young woman who oc- 
cupied the back room on the ground floor and went 




I30 ELEMENTARY JANE 

out charing by day ; an old tailor and his wife who 
lived and worked on the first floor, in two rooms and 
sufficiently comfortable circumstances ; and a couple 
of middle-aged women who earned their living by 
embroidery, and had the front top room next to that 
of Jane. Jane knew the methodical habits of all these 
people, and the light having been extingu'shed in 
the passage it was unlikely that any one of them was 
out at this moment. While she hesitated, the tapping 
made itself heard yet again. 

Jane, timid by temperament, determined to open 
the door on the chain. 

"Who's there?" she said through the gap thus 
limited. 

A face showed itself there — close to her own. 
" Oh, is it you ? " said a voice. — " is it you 1 " 
Jane gave a little exclamation under her breath. 
For a moment she shut the door once more to permit 
of unfastening the chain (which process she effected 
with trembling fingers), then once again she opened 
it, and found Michael standing outside in the rain. In 
the infinitesimal space of time that elapsed before he 
spoke, — and he spoke, it seemed, at once,— Jane 
saw that he was wet, and splashed with mud. She 
knew, before he told her, that he had run most of the 
way from Camberwdl. 

" I could n't go without saying good-bye to you," he 
said. " That's my excuse for being here at this hour." 
" It was you, then I Oh, I was sure it was. I would 
have stopped the carriage if I could — " 



ELEMFNTARY JANE 



121 



She broke off. Heaven knew what admissions she 
had been about to make. She blushed, and then grew 
pale. 

" I saw you get into it," Michael said. " 1 'm leav- 
ing London to-morrow morning. My only chance 
of seeing you for a moment was to get here before 
you." 

" And you ran all the way — " 

" That was nothing so that I was in time." 

" And you 're wet — oh you 're wet through." 
' He shook his head. 

"But you are, and you're standing in the rain 
now." 

She cast about for some course of action. She could 
not ask him to come in. He could not stand outoide 
with the rain pattering upon him, nor for that matter 
could she talk to him here at the door, where the 
sound of voices would be audible in Mrs. Kerridge's 
room at least. And she did not want him to go — at 
once. 

There was an archway leading to a timber-yard a 
short way up the street, and on the opposite side of 
it. Jane's eyes lighted upon it, and some little indica- 
tion of her thought must have showed itself in her 
face, for Michael looked round to see the direction of 
her gaze. 

" We might stand there for a moment," he said. 

Jane nodded. She shut the door as noiselessly as 
she could, and the two crossed the street together. 

" I wonder how I should have accounted for myself 



133 ELEMENTARY JANE 

if it had not been you," Michael exclaimed as they 
reached the shelter " I saw the brougham drive off 
just as I got to the comer of the street, and when I 
reached the door it was shut, but I heard some one 
moving inside. If it had not been you I " 

" And you are going to-morrow," Jane said. 

" To-morrow morning." 

" For how long ? " 

" I don't know." 

Crossing to the archway had been a false move. 
Blankncss seized them both. There seemed nothing 
to say. Michael knew well the regret — the remorse, 
almost, that would follow upon this blankness, and 
Jane felt it dimly, but the tongue of each was tied. 
They talked, the pair of them, of the past and the 
future, but neither gave expression to what both 
were feeling under the numbness that stultified them 
jointly. 

"I mustn't keep you longer," Michael said at 
length. " Good-bye, Miss Smith." 

" Good-bye," saiO Jane mechanically. 

Michael took hei- hand. 

" Oh," he said, " I wonder whether you will remem- 
ber me when I come back." 

" Yes," said Jane, " yes." 

" You '11 have so much to think about. Why should 
you remember a poor devil like me. I must n't hope 
it." 

Jane g^ve a little laugh. It sounded odd even to 
her own ears, as did the words she spoke. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



"3 



" You are a man," she said. 

He looked for her meaning. 

" And men don't remember," she added. 

" We shall see. I have heard the same of women." 

Neither her cynicism nor his rang true. Oh, strange 
and horrible palsy that had them both I What they 
would not, that they seemed. What they would be, 
and what indeed each was, that nor one nor other 
could express. 

Michael shivered once. A draught ran through the 
archway, and his clothes were damp. That he did 
not get a chill pointed either to the health of his vigor- 
ous frame or else to the nullifying property of the 
stupor that possessed him. 

He made an effort to shake this off. " Fool I Fool I" 
he said to himself fiercely. The moments that should 
have been crammed with precious emotions were slip- 
ping by. 

"May I write?" 

" If you want to." 

" I shall wish to." 

" Very well." 

Silence fell. There was not even a consuming ne- 
cessity to keep talking. 

But at that very last, and when they had crossed 
the street and vrere standing once more at the door 
of Mrs. Kerridge's house, their common paralysis 
left them like a fog that lifts. Each looked at the 
other like people emerging into daylight from the 
darkness of a long tunnel : or, for closer semblance, 



134 ELEMENTARY JANE 

for there was recognition in the look of each, like 
lover and lady who having met and sported in the 
masquerade cry " You ! " " You I " at the dropping of 
masks. 

A clock struck. Too late the finding of the souls I 

"Good-bye," Michael said. "You'll never know 
how it grieves me to say it." 

"I lost you your engagement," Jane said. "It's 
me that 's sent you away." 

Her eyes filled with tears. 

" No," he said. " No." 

" But it is. You 'd have got the vacancy when it 
came only for me." 

" Ah," he said, " you must n't look at your influ- 
ence upon me in that light If you knew . . ." 

" Will this be good — what you ' ve got ? " 

Michael hesitated. 

" I suppose it would be called a splendid chance." 

"Good money?" Elementary Jane used the terms 
of her class. 

" More than money. I am to have an opportunity 
of learning. Mr. Atherton is going to teach me." 

" Mr. Atherton. Is he kind ? " 

"The best and kindest friend a man ever had." 

" I like him then — at first I did n't somehow ; but 
I do." 

" You would if you knew him." 

The rain still fell. It splashed on Michael's hat 

" You must go," Jane said. "You must go." 

" Good-bye." 



[ELEMENTARY JANE ia$ 

" Good-bye." 

Yet he lingered. 

" Then I may write ? " 

"Oh, yes. It will be something to — I mean I 
should like to hear from you just to say how you get 
on in Manchester." 

The last moment had come — the very last. He 
must not delay longer. 

" Good-bye," he said again. 

" Good-bye." 

He was holding her hand once more. It seemed 
very slender and delicate in his own. He needed 
what self-control he could call up to keep his feelings 
in check. Jane's tears trembled on her eyelashes. 

"Oh," he said, " take care of yourself. Take care 
of yourself." 

Jane did not answer, she could not just then, and 
these words were the last words spoken. 



CHAPTER XIII 



So, for the time being, went Michael out of Jane's im- 
mediate life, and " the time being," in the economy of 
things generally, as the time that shapes the future 
while it sums up the past, may be called the time that 
counts. The going of Michael or, more narrowly fo- 
cussed, that and his silence, had issues then of some 
moment in the story of Elementary Jane. 

He went to wider horizons ; the horizons of Jane did 
not promise to stretch. At first, indeed, they narrowed. 
A month of unoccupied evenings followed the ending 
of her engagement at the Camberwell Palace. Jane's 
hopes sank. Panic even seized her when day after 
day went by and Mr. Paton had no news for her. No- 
thing offered. Jane went this way and that on the 
chance of "extra turns." But, so it happened, without 
success. Artists better known stepped in ; artists with 
interest, or it might be with agents more prominent. 
Jane often heard the names Swindon and Vans and 
sometimes wished. . . But Mr. Paton was very kind 
— kinder, perhaps, than she knew, when, speaking of 
the provinces, he advised her against venturing so far 
afield. 

He was a coarse-grained man enough, but he recog- 
nized her timid innocence and respected it 

" If I let you go to Preston or Glasgow or Belfast, 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



i«7 



and you were n't happy when you got there, what 'd 
/ou do all alone ? You 're not like some. I don't be- 
lieve that you 'd be able to take care of yourself. You 'd 
le scared to death amongst a lot of strangers. If you 
was of the yewsh'l sort, I 'd tell you to take anything 
that turned up anywhere, — it 's all experience, y' 
know, — but you're not. and herein London you've 
got friends, have n't you?" 

" Yes, I 've got friends," said Jane. 

" Well, try and manage somehow for a bit, and we 
shall find an opening for you before long. Don't you 
be afraid. It '11 come." 

" Do you really think it will?" 

" Set y' mind at rest. You did very well at Camber- 
well — great promise you showed, and I 've got Mr. 
Isaacs's word to give you another engagement later 
on. Ah, 'a bird in the 'and,' I know, and all that, still 
you're only a beginner, you must remember, and 
you 've got to make your name, see. ' Rowme wasn't 
built in a day,' as the saying is." 

" No." 

" Well, look in on Monday. Perhaps I might hear 
of something by then." 

Jane went home with a heart of fluctuating weight. 
It was heavy enough by the time she reached Little 
Petwell Street. 

"There, don't take on about it," Mrs. Kerridge said. 
" What 's this, Wednesday? There '11 come a letter, 
I d'say, long before Monday." 

But there came no letter (not even one from 



138 



ELEMENTARY JANE 




Michael), and Monda/^ visit to the agent was as 
fruitless as that of Wednesday. 

Jane's face was white when Mrs. Kerridge, who 
was standing at her window, saw her pass to the 
door. 

"I declare it's a shame," the good woman said, 
meeting her in the pta&sage — "and you singin' as 
well as you done, and your dance, too. But don't choo 
lose 'eart, my pretty, nor yet worry about the rent 
You can 'ave 'ome 'ere an' welcome if you do get 
a bit be'ind. I said it to y' mother drorin' 'er last 
breath. The very last thing before she passed away 
I said it, and I say the same to you." 

Jane murmured hfv thinks and was moving on 
towards the stairs when Mrs. Kerridge (a kindly feel- 
ing with her always prompting hospitality) caught 
her hand. 

"An' you're just comin' in to 'ave a cup of tea 
with me, that 's what you are. I 'm not going to let 
you go doin' without things for the sake of puttin' 
together the price of your room." 

" Oh, I have n't got to do without, really," Jane 
said ; " there 's still some of mother's money." 

She was tired and discouraged. She had walked 
to and from Mr. Paton's office to save the money she 
would have had to spend had she travelled by omni- 
bus. She suffered herself to be persuaded, and followed 
Mrs. Kerridge into her room. It seemed a long time 
since the supper-party that had been held there in her 
honour and to commemorate her first success. She 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



139 



wondered whether any further success whatever was 
in store for her. She was in a mood to jump to mourn- 
ful conclusions. 

She had now four songs in her repertory and a 
couple of dances — meagre stock in trade, it must be 
admitted, but not altogether inadequate. She learnt 
quickly and had perseverance. A year, two years 
would see her not ill-qualified for the line she had 
chosen. But she must live while this year, these two 
years passed, and how to do that if engagements 
failed her? 

The month of disappointment dragged itself out 
Jane denied herself all but the barest necessities. 
There was a day when she ate her bread dry from 
reluctance to face the terror of knowing that she 
had broken into her last pound. On this day came 
Michael's promised letter, and brought solace in tell- 
ing of his welfare. But it was reticent of his feelings, 
having been written, though Jane knew it not, with 
a pen on which the severest curb had been put, and 
Jane sighed over it while she cherished it. 

She thought of something Nelly Chingford had 
once said about men and the deep blue sea. 

And were they all alike? Miss Chingford said 
" Yes," in imaginary colloquy. She represented cyn- 
icism ; Jane, faith, and held " No I No I " with warmth 
and reiteration. Try 'em. Jane's range was limited. 
She was always to be found contrasting Michael with 
Curley in what was, moreover, only an estimate of the 
character of each. 



I3D 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



Michael you might trust ; swear by, if need be. 
Curley you must follow with your eyes . . . 

These the thoughts to which Michael's reticence 
gave rise in the mind of anxious Jane. She even for- 
got her anxiety for a time in the contemplation of the 
thought that remained steadfast and unassailable as 
the conclusion of the whole matter. Anyway, you 
could trust Michael. She said that to herself many 
times. 

The next day her bread (even her dry bread I) being 
finished and her tea a pinch of black dust in the bot- 
tom of the caddy, Jane unwrapped her last pound. 
She looked at it long even to the seeing of undis- 
covered details in the bust of the sovereign, and the 
presentment of St. George and the Dragon. There 
were things she might have pawned, — the tea-caddy, 
for ready instance, — but " putting away " Jane held 
the last resource of all. So with her pound in her 
pocket she went out to buy food. Never before had 
housekeeping cost her such misgiving. She spent 
fivepence and returned with her change and her mod- 
est parcels. A telegraph boy, whisding, and an em- 
bodiment of restless energy, was walking up the 
street in front of her, peeling an orange as he went. 
He caught her attention. His whistling was very 
shrill. She found herself disliking him. How strange 
to be so noisy and so mischievous. Orange peels 
traced his path along the pavement. Jane with her 
foot pushed into the gutter such pieces of the treach- 
erous yellow rind as she met on her way. The task 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



131 



troublesome if voluntary. Horrid boy. Now he 
was eating the fruit —an ugly function as he per- 
formed it. Jane knew this rather then saw it, for she 
walked behind him. His mouth must be smeared — 
how horrid I — but at least its occupation stopped his 
whistling, for which one might be grateful. 

Her nerves were all on edge. Anxiety and a day's 
dry bread had tried them. They, rather than she, 
seized upon the offending boy to work off upon him 
the spleen they had engendered. A minute later her 
heart jumped. The boy looked at the numbers on the 
doors, and stopped at Mrs. Kerridge's house. Jane 
ran forward, asking the name on the envelope, telling 
her own ; Jane Smith. 

As she spoke she sighted " Tandem." 

He shook his head. 

" You 're from the wrong side of the door, y" see," 
he said, grinning. 

" But it 's for me," said Jane, choking with excite- 
ment 

" You said your name was Smith." 

" So it is, but it 's Tandem, too." 

" H'm, I '11 wait till they come." 

Never before had Mrs. Kerridge been so long in 
answering a bell. 

Jane chafed. 

"Tandem," said the boy when Mrs. Kerridge 
appeared. 

"Tandem?" echoed Mrs. Kerridge. 

" It 's for me," cried Jane. 



i3a 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



r 



Mrs. Kerridge grasped the situation. 

"That 's right," she said. 

The boy looked suspicious : " How am I to know ?" 
he began — but delivered the telegram into her hand. 
Jane took it fa-om her, trembling. 

" He would n't give it to me," she said, as she tore 
the envelope open. 

" Well, she said her name was Smith," said the 
boy again. He was combative, and his face was 
smeared with orange juice; but when next Jane 
looked at him her feelings had wholly changed, and 
she saw in him the beauty of one who brings good 
tidings. 

She followed Mrs. Kerridge into her room. 

The message was from Mr. Paton. He had secured 
for Jane a trial at the Edgware, to be followed by an 
engagement if she gave satisfaction ; and wanted to 
see her at once. Kindness must have prompted all 
but the bare summons. Jane counted the words to a 
total of twenty-three, and blessed Mr. Paton in her 
heart. Mrs. Kerridge kissed her. 

"What did I tell you?" she said, and "It's tiie 
turn of the tide." 

" I hope so." 

" I know it." 

"If it only is I" 

"You'll see." 

Jane ran up to her room and changed her hat. 

" I 'm off now," she said when she came down. 

By chance the sun shone out as she opened the 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



133 



door. Mrs. Kerridge had followed her to the steps. 
She nodded at the gilded street 

" For you, dear ; look ! " 

As Michael once, so did Jane take heart at the shin- 
ing of the sun. 

" Perhaps," she said. " Oh, perhaps, perhaps," and 
laughed over her shoulder as she hurried away. 

She sped to the dingy office, drawing to the extent 
of twopence for omnibus fares upon her capital and 
her belief in the future. 

Hope restored to her, Jane could hope with the 
most sanguine. You had only to look at her to see 
that. Her eyes were shining and her cheeks aglow. 
On foot, she walked rapidly, breaking more than 
once into a run ; sitting on top of the omnibus, she 
leaned forward in her seat. She was alert in every 
fibre. The blood was coursing through her veins as 
the sap was flowing then in spring woods — for the 
tardy spring had come. The sight of a tree told Jane 
what she might have known ten days. She smiled to 
herself, and pictured half unconsciously how London, 
even murky London, was decking itself in greenest 
g^een. Little clean leaves were uncurling themselves 
and smoothing out their tender crinkles in every park 
and garden, where (yes, and on the house-tops) might 
be heard the note of nesting birds. The very heart of 
Jane burst into song. 

The trot of the horses and the even swing of their 
glossy quarters kept time to the song of Jane's heart. 
The voice of the driver exhorting and coaxing had a 



134 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



part in it. So had the faint jingle of the harness and 
the soft swish of a merciful whip, — imagined, this 
last, rather than heard, — while behind and through 
her singing swelled the roar and the clang and the 
hum and the buzz, the music of midday streets. 

Jane left the omnibus, tingling with happy expect- 
ancy, at peace with the world, and came face to face 
with Curley Merino. 

She had often wondered what her first meeting 
with him would be like, and had always thought of it 
as taking place at a music-hall. She had even re- 
hearsed the frigid manner with which she intended 
to repress any attempts upon his part to renew the 
friendly relations that had existed before he surren- 
dered his claim to her respect. She had proposed this 
and that, a distant bend, a turning on the heel, silence, 
and a command of her features; but Curley disposed 
as he would : made her laugh to begin with, rallied 
her on a wish to fight shy of him, was comelier than 
ever — comely to beguile saints I — and finally ex- 
pressed penitence. 

What could she do ? Avowals of repentance from 
such lips, to an accompaniment of dear eyes, half 
serious, halJ mischievous, but pleading eloquently, 
were not to be resisted. 

" Ah, you will forgive me, won't you ? " 

Jane, yielding, shook her head. 

"YouwUl. You will." 

" I don't think I can." 

" Oh, you can and you will." 



ELEMENTARY JANE 135 

" I 'm not sure that I ought to." 

" Ought, what is that? You must and will." 

" I never meant to speak to you again. ' 

" You have spoken." 

"You spoke to me. I was n't thinking. You took 
me by surprise." 

"You have forgiven me. I see it in your face." 

"Then you see what isn't there." 

" I 'm not so clever." 

" Clever enough." 

The word took Curley off on an indirect tr il to 
other matters. 

" I 've left the Family," he said — abruptly, as it 
seemed to Jane, and added, " Did you know?" 

Jane looked at him with astonishment. 

" Left the Family 1 " 

He nodded, smiling at her wonder. 

"Don't you think I was too good for 'em?" 

" I never thought about it," said Jane. 

This Curley was disposed to challenge, and began 
with a bantering " Oh, yes, you did I " but abandoned 
the matter on Jane's next words. 

"What does your father say?" she asked. As yet 
she could only regard Curley's secession from the 
point of view of those who were left to get on without 
him. 

"Monze?" said Curley. "It don't much matter 
what he says. He 's no father of mine." 

Curley spoke with a heat that was reminiscent, no 
doubt, of circumstances attending the rupture. So 



136 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



much Jane could understand, and the significance of 
the tone impressed her before that of the words them- 
selves sent her gaze flying to his in sudden ques- 
tion. 

"He'd no claim on me," he said. "Nor me on 
him. He 's not my father." 

" Not your father . . .1 No claim . . .1" 

Her eyes still on his recalled him to a sense of what 
was due to his mother. 

"Oh, well," he said lightly, "he's my stepfather, 
of course. But, anyway, I 'm old enough to choose 
for myself." 

There was a pause during which Jane sought to 
determine between what he had first implied and the 
amendment "Mr. Merino was so kind," she said 
then retrospectively, " and Madame, too. Are n't they 
vexed?" 

" There was a bit of a row." 

" And what are you doing ? " 

"It's not so much what I'm doing as what I'm 
going to do. Oh, you'll hear. Look out for The 
Three C's : You 've heard of Camden and Carson. 
Well, I 'm joining them." 

" Fancy," said Jane. 

She remembered her errand, having forgotten it 
for a few moments, and said she must be going. 

" I 'm forgiven, then ? " 

" I did n't say so." 

"Ah, you must." The sun was shining on her hair 
and shining thence. "Come, you're not going to 



ELEMENTARY JANE 137 

deny me on a day like this. Say it Say it It 's on 
your tongue now and your tong^ue 's sliut in behind 
your little cruel teeth. Such white teeth and so cruel 1 
It wants to speak and they won't let it Ah ! " 

Impossible, with his eyes laughing into hers, to 
keep the tongue a prisoner. Jane's lips parted to a 
smile, her pretty teeth to an answering laugh, and 
Curley was forgiven. 



CHAPTER XIV 

Then did the heart of Jane misgive her. A disloy- 
alty to Michael seemed to lurk in her forgiveness 
of Curley. She felt this, but did not wholly under- 
stand it, realizing only that the natures of Curley and 
Michael were antagfonistic the one to the other, as 
the flesh is opposed to the spirit She pondered upon 
the matter for three days, at the end of which, other 
things engrossing her, she relinquished the problem 
as one too hard for her and (unconsciously) awaited 
the course of events. 

Fortune now saw fit to smile upon Miss Tandem. 
The soul of Elementary Jane might be perplexed and 
anxious, the path of Miss Tandem grew bright with 
promise. For success (a small figure, but not to be 
mistaken for failure, or even the colourless hybrid 
compounded of both) met her with outstretched 
bands. Not that the little singer had greatiy feared 
for the result of her trial turn. The longing for the 
glare of footlights, and for the resultant sense of 
strange lights and shades upon the face — the light 
on the cheek-bones, a warmth almost under the eyes 
— for the sight of the drab patchwork of the house, 
and for the sound of fiddles and drums (oh, the drum, 
the drum, nerving her to victory in distant Camber- 
well 1) — the longing for these thin^, I say, had been 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



139 



too urgent to admit of her failing when once more 
the saw and felt and heard them. 

Going home with Mrs. Kerridge from the Edgware, 
the ordeal over, Jane was in a heaven not far short 
of the seventh, the seventh itself holding at a guess 
success and Michael. 

Jane brimmed and sftarkled like spring water in a 
cup overflowing. 

"Oh," she said, this (exclamation pomting her 
talk), and "oh" that, and "oh" and "oh." Two 
bright spots of healthy coloiu- burned on her cheeks 
where the warm rouge had been. 

Mrs. Kerridge looked at her from time to time and 
smiled. 

Jane had sung " The Lane where the violets nesde " 
to a welcome as cordial here as across the Thames, 
and for the song she disliked she had submitted one 
of the two she had lately learned, with a result that 
appeared to augur well for its place in her repertory. 
It was elegantly named " A Biscuit and a little piece 
of Cheese," and gave Jane scope for evincing a sense 
of humour that must have had the charm of the un- 
expected for any one who was acquainted with the 
singer. The song caught on, in the slang of the mo- 
ment, and Jane was filled with the pride of posses- 
sion. 

" I 've got the entire rights of it," she said to Mrs. 
Kerridge, with a proprietary and a professional air 
that sat upon her somewhat comically. She had 
heard Miss Chingford speak so of a successful song. 



1 

! 


" M 


1 


1 


i 

j 


'i'l 

■:'■!( 
ii; 



I40 



EI^MENTARY JANE 



and knowing herself to be a babe was moved in the 
moment of her elation to hint at a shrewdness she 
was far from having. But she became her ingenuous 
self again at once, and spoke with solicitude of the 
composer. 

" Oh," she said, " it 'd be nice to bring him luck, 
would n't it ? Some singers make the names of the 
authors. It puts 'Sung with Immense Success'" 
(Jane's tone expressed capitals I) '"by So and So ' 
on the cover — you know. I don't believe any of his 
songs have been published yet It 'd be nice if they 
got published through me." 

" Ah, I 'd like to 'ear 'em on the organs," said Mrs. 
Kerridge. 

" P'r'aps it'll even come to that," said Jane. 

Mrs. Kerridge declared that she would n't be sur- 
prised. She returned to the subject of the singer. 

She had much tc say. She had kept her ears open, 
and had heard more than one gratifying remark 
about Miss Tandem's performance. These she re- 
tailed with unction. 

The Edgware Music Hall was larger than the 
Camberwell. Jane remembered a misgiving as to 
her ability to fill it and gave voice to the doubt 

" Could you hear me 7 " she asked anxiously. 

" Every word where I was." 

" I 'm glad," said Jane. " Oh, I 'm glad." 

Happiness illumined her. 

" And they sang your chorus a masterpiece," said 
Mrs. Kerridge. " There was a lady sitting near me 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



141 



as hirly got the tune in her 'ead. She was 'ummin' 
it when we came out" 

They reached home. 

" I 'm a good bit happier than I was this time last 
week," said Jane, at the turn of the stairs. 

Mrs. Kerridge, one foot in her own room and one 
on the threshold, recapitulated Jane's grounds for such 
happiness. 

" And what did I tell you ?" she asked in fine. 

After this the weeks began to pass quickly, and 
Jane to be happy as in the early days at CamberwelL 
Everything reminded her of that time. She made new 
friends in her profession, and thought of the friends 
she called old. When she was happiest she thought 
of Michael, and sometimes happiness sent her 
thoughts to Curley. At times she paused to sigh. 
Tliat was when Michael seemed increasingly dis- 
tant, and when she recognized that the recollection 
of her last meeting with him was losing something 
of its clearness. He had not written again. No one 
talked of him, for no one knew him. Even at the 
little hall across the river he had scarcely had an 
individuality. He was an instrument in the orches- 
tra, no more ; and at that a negligible quantity. 
Jane's first name for him — the drum — spoke to his 
unimportance. 

But Curley was here in London. She had met him, 
might meet him ag^in, and more than once she heard 
his name. Sometimes, for strange reasons, she spoke 
it herself, asking her fellow artists if they knew him. 



' 



143 ELEMENTARY JANE 

Thus the showed herself that she was no longer 
airaid of him. 

Mr. Paton told her of offers in many directions. 
When she found herself appearing twice in the same 
night, she knew her star to be rising, indeed. 

But the light of its rising showed pitfalls in her 
path. Hitherto a shout of " Brayvo Jenny I " from the 
back of the hall or the top of it, and an occasional 
flower taken from a coat and flung from a box or a 
stall, had represented the utmost expression of indi- 
vidual appreciation that ever reached her ; but pres- 
endy her admuvrs sought means more direct to con- 
vey their sentiments. Mrs. Kerridge had warned her 
at a time when the voice of one that warned was as 
the voice of one that mocked. Jane remembered her 
own suggestion of "West End Halls," and crumpled 
up the letter that had been handed to her. 

Six months went by : Jane's card was in the Entr*- 
Acte ; a year : she was prosperous, recorded her ex- 
btence in the Era, and had thanked Somebody " Es- 
quire " for an offer for pantomime — rejected. 

The "Lane" was published and selling. Jane's 
picture graced the cover. Organs ground out the air, 
children danced to it in the street Then Jane knew 
fame. 

She was prosperous. Tappy? Knew more of life, 
and cried sometimes for her mother. Her heart was 
empty— and love was offered to her. Letters came 
often now, flowers, presents. Jane's expression became 
apprehensive. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 143 

"WiU it be like this always?" slie said to Nelly 
Chingford. 

" You want a brother or some one to look after 
you," said Miss Chingford, smiling at her seriousness. 

" I 've no one," said Jane. 

Miss Chingford mused. 

•' You 'd be better married," she said ; " then there 'd 
be somebody to see that they let you alone." She 
looktid at the note and the litde diamond brooch 
which were the cause of Jane's immediate disquietude. 
Jane thought of the new struggle that had come into 
her life. She had but changed one anxiety for another. 
It was easy enough to refuse invitations to supper and 
to submit to being thought a Litde Silly for her 
scruples. As yet the amusements of her companions 
alarmed her more than they attracted her. She was 
in their world and not of it, and a girl or two eyed 
her askance. But laxity was in the air. Nothing mat- 
tered. Would she always be able to fight while her 
empty heart cried out for love ? 

Miss Chingford looked up, and said some people 
wouldn't call these things troubles. Diamonds! 
Well, there, it was give and take, and not unfair, if 
you came to think. But (enigmatically) it wasj'all 
according " and Jane was " different." 

" And whatever you took to the halls for, dear, 
with your pretty innocent face, I can't think. They 're 
bound to love you — men are — it 's the brooch now 
— ten pounds, I dare say, he paid for that. But it 
means this, you know, and you could have it any day 
of your life, I can see." 



>44 EUMENTARY JANB 

MJm Chingford waved her hand compreheiuivdy. 
She wore an elaborate tea-g^own and the chain in her 
drawingr-room were covered with crimson plush. The 
piano was black and gold and had medallions of por- 
celain let into the woodwork of the case. 

"You see, Charlie's very wealthy," she in paren- 
thMis and explanation ; " he 'd marry me to-morrow 
as he 's told me times and times, U he was free, but 
— well, there you are, and it was a litde diamond 
Bxard with a ruby head, much about the size of your 
brooch, that opened my eyes (some years ago, mind), 
and I was an orphan, too." 

The expression of Jane changed from apprehension 
to fear. Miss Chingford caught her by the elbows and 
shook her affectionately. 

"You little trembling mouse," she cried, "I've 
scMcely patience widi you. Why do you come to ne 
and let me say such things to you ? It 's a lie if I tell 
you I 'm never sorry. There 's days -evenings gen- 
eraUy, you know, twUights-when I'd give some- 
thing to have my life over again. I 'm not talking of 
now particularly. I 'm very fond of Charlie, and he 's 
bett« than some, but it's getting off the straight 
that does for you. I think I 'm a religious woman — 
somewhere deep down and behind what I do (my God 
when I think of my songs I) and I believe in souls." 

" Then, why — " Jane began. 
- " We 'U leave my case out of it, I think," said Nelly 
pimly. •< My bed 's made, anyway, but you have got 
the making of yours." 



CHAPTER XV 

CURLEY Merino, It may be guessed, was not troubled 
with any very deep feelings, and he had long since 
got over his fleeting passion for Jane. Circumstances 
had separated him from the object of his desire at the 
critical time, and other interests had soon absorbed 
him. But with Curley, in the words of Madame 
Merino, you never Icnew where you were, and to 
prophesy that what had been in his mind would 
never return to it would have been vain, indeed, and 
a wasting of words. 

Jane, to sum up, was not thrown in his way ; that 
was all. 

Tl plans for his future were engrossing enough 
to distract his attention at first. Luck was with him, 
and he made the acquaintance of Messrs. Camden 
and Carson, who dropped in at the Mocha one night, 
on their way home from the Aquarium at Westmin- 
ster where they were fulfilling a protracted engage- 
ment A comment upon Curle)r's share in the per- 
formance of the Merino Family led to an interchange 
of opinions, in the course of which Curley spoke of 
his dissatisfaction with his present position. He had 
seen Camden and Carson perform more than once, 
and he knew their merits as he knew his own. They 
were young men, albeit his seniors by some years, 
and Curley believed in youth. Standing at the bar 



146 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



with them, he saw their reflection and his own in a 
mirror. 

The uniformity of the trio struck him. In truth, it 
was noteworthy. In height and build the three were 
matched. They had the same look of lithe limbs and 
suppleness of joint 

Curley nodded at the three reflections, raising his 
glass. He spoke of his determination to seek a new 
berth for himself. The proposal of one of his com- 
panions that he should join them was lighdy made. 

Curley took up the suggestion and played with it, 
turning it this way and that as a kitten a cork. Then 
like a ball the idea was tossed from one to another 
of the three while glasses were emptied and filled. It 
dropped and lay still for a space, to be thrown in the 
air and caught neatiy and thrown once again, before 
it dropped down at the ftarting. 

Camden and Carson, however, talked as they went 
home. 

Curley on his own account proceeded to the Aqua- 
rium the next day, and regarded their performance 
critically. To just such artists would he wish to ally 
himself, and without any undue vanity he thought 
that they would find him an acquisition of value, if 
they could be induced to think seriously of taking 
him into partnership. He did not make his presence 
known to them, but went his way. 

Now Camden and Carson continued to talk, and 
gradually the idea which had been mooted in all play- 
fulness began to be considered in earnest They were 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



147 



ambitious, and had discernment enough to see that 
Curley, who was wasted where he was, would in- 
crease the strength of their own " show." Unknown 
to him, they visited the Mocha again. Thus did Cur- 
ley on the one hand, and Camden and Carson on the 
other, pursue the same course. 

Still neither took any definite step. 

A week passed, and then another. The Merinos 
finished their engagements at " Rawlinses" and the 
Mocha and were appearing at Hammersmith. Curley, 
hankering after the fleshpots of Egypt, — Leicester 
Square, Piccadilly Circus, the Strand, — eyed the dis- 
tant Broadway with d.sdain. The wish to perform to 
a greater world became every day more insistent, and 
the meeting with Camden and Carson, by its hint of 
possible results, heightened a restiessness that ex- 
pressed itself in many ways. 

In so far as it was in his nature to disturb himself, 
Curley chafed. The knowledge that the remedy lay 
probably with himself caused him sometimes to set 
his teeth. For, strange as it may seem, he could not 
wholly shake off a sense of what he owed to his fomily. 
That he was bound by no articles of apprenticeship, 
or other bond, spoke either to the unbusinesslike 
temperament of Merino or to a faith on his part in 
family ties. Curley, then, cursed his scruples for their 
very unexpectedness, and let day after day go by 
without taking any active measures to assert his free- 
dom. He waited, in truth, like Mr. Micawber, for 
something to turn up, and a definite offer from Cam- 






t:-* 



i!!l 



148 ELEMENTARY JANE 

den and Carson was the fonn he hoped most such 
up-turning would take. He watched for a letter or a 
visit, divining that they had gauged his value and 
were not impossibly considering the matter. But they 
also were waiting. 

Affairs were standing thus when a trifling domestic 
revelation gave Curley the excuse he needed for sev- 
ering his connection with the Family. It came indi- 
recdy of his mother's uneasiness about him, and 
direcdy of Una's recollection of a few incautious 
words let fall in her hearing. 

Madame Merino was not a woman to anticipate 
evil. Life had not dealt her any heavy blows or otiier- 
wise given her cause for adopting an attitude of ap- 
prehension. She had lived her forty years compla- 
cenfly, doing her duties cheerfully, and letting tiie 
future take care of itself. Merino was a good hus- 
band, and h^r children, save one who had died in 
infancy, were witii her. But of late an anxiety tiiat 
was prospective if not actual had begun to cast a 
shadow over her serenity. Watching Curley (as tiie 
rwult of tiie momentary misgiving tiiat had jerked 
horn her lips one evening a word of warning), she 
fenaed a sUght change in him. A recurrence of tiie 
fluA on his cheeks and tiie sparkle in his eyes re- 
newed almost immediately tiie first fear that had come 
into her haphazard mind so strangely. But watching 
more closely, she had soon found otiier cause for anx- 
iety She looked, and she saw her son preoccupied, 
restiess, restive. He had been amenable, he was im- 



ELEMENTARY JANE 149 

patient of control. He had been contented, he showed 
himself contemptuous of his surroundings. He had 
accepted her husband's views, he had views of his 
own. 

Presently he talked vaguely of the future; soon 
in his discussions of prospects and plans, dissociat- 
ing himself from the rest, he hinted at potential in- 
dependence. 

Madame Merino, suspecting the forces that were 
at work in him, and, for reasons of her own, fearing 
an encounter between him and Monze, did all in 
her power to pacify him. There came a day, how- 
ever, when of set purpose she spoke of a tour Monze 
projected. 

" You '11 like that," she said tentatively. 

"I mightn't and again I might," he said. "You 
never know. And perhaps it won't concern me. Who 
can tell 7 Perhaps and perhaps not It 's a month off, 
anjrway." 

She thought to "have'it out" with him and faced 
him. 

" What d' y* mean ? " she asked. — " ' Perhaps and 
perhaps not' ; what d' y" mean by it, Cmley?" 

But Curley closed one eye. 

"You're all the while half-saying things," said his 
mother petulantiy. " I don't know what's coming to 
you. Ain't we good enough for y', all of a sudden? " 

Lena was by, and pricked up her ears as once be- 
fore. Madame Merino observed her alertness and, as 
then, bade her be occupied with her own affairs. 



xso 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



"And why don't y* speak out?" she added to 
Curley. 

"I shall when the time comes," he answered 
lighdy, and closed the subject by taking his hat from 
a peg and departing. 

Madame Merino fell into silence, but Lena, with 
the air of a woman of the world, must needs dis- 
course upon the situation at length. Tying the bit 
of rose-coloured ribbon that decorated the end of her 
meagre pigtail, she expressed certain middle-aged 
sentiments with complacent assurance. She hoped 
nothing was coming to her brother, and speculated 
as to whether anything " laid " upon his mind. She 
instanced the things she didn't "like to see" — an 
increasing fondness for the bar, a tendency to stop 
cut at night Such things " had n't ought" to be, 
and this or that was to be hoped or feared. She 
waxed monumental at the sound of her own voice, 
and finding herself uninterrupted supposed herself 
encouraged. Now it was the ambition of this some- 
what precocious young person to be treated as grown 
up, and to be included in discussions from which she 
and Fritz were habitually shut out on the score of 
their youth. Wishing to be considered mature, she 
pretended often to a comprehension that was in re- 
ality the reverse of complete. A parrot-like repetition 
of words or phrases she had heard, was one of the 
methods she employed to impress those by whom she 
wished to be appreciated. She resorted to it now. 

" It 'd be a pity if he didn't go on satisfactory," 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



151 



she said, " though of course, with every one taking 
a fancy to him like they do, it 's difficult for him to 
refuse a drink here and there, and I don't blame him, 
but of course with his fam'iy hist'ry he ought to be 
careful, had n't he?" 

Family history I Madame Merino, who had not 
been attending, became alive to the things of the mo- 
ment, at once, — but, like one waking b-om slumber 
and unable to collect the faculties immediately, she 
blundered in her speech. 

" Family history 1 " she cried. " What are you talk- 
ing about 1 What do you know of it? You never saw 
his father." 

She broke off, but the thing was spoken. Even 
then her admission might have escaped notice but 
for her obvious haste to cover it Lena looked at 
her with surprise as she floundered for a moment 
in words. Lena herself had attached no specific 
significance to the term she had used. The words 
were her mother's, and sounded well, whatever they 
meant, but now the girl saw that their actual import 
must have escaped her. They had the power, it 
seemed, of throwing her mother into confusion ; they 
must be remarkable, indeed. Lena promised herself 
to remember them and the circumstances that at- 
tended their utterance. 

Madame Merino recovered herself. 

" You do aggravate me so, Lena, with your tongue," 
she said. " I declare I don't know what I 'm saying. 
Wag, wag, wag, it's enough to drive one silly. 



153 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



Family history I What did you mean? We're idl 
strong enough, thank God. What made y* say it, 
chUd, eh?" 

" It was you said it," said Lena. 

"Me? I never— " 

"Yes, you did. It was that night after Curley'd 
had the row with that Seaward feller and they was 
all wanting to drink with him, you spoke to bther, 
and I remember as well as well ; you said it was his 
family 'ist'ry you was thinking about" 

" Did I ? Well, there, I 'd forgotten. Perhaps I did. 
I wonder why." 

But Lena was very sharp, a circumstance which 
her mother would have done well to consider. 

" I expect I was anxious about him or something," 
Madame Merino added. " I should be about any of 
y', if there were too many wanting to treat y*. That 's 
what mothers are. You need n't worry /r Either, 
see." 
, Lena shook her head. 

"Father hardly touches a drop, does he?" she 
said, and found further cause for wonder in that so 
simple a remark should revive her mother's irritation. 

" You do take one up so," Madame Merino said, 
angrily, "making a song out of every littie thing. 
Go and fetch them stockings I gave y' to dam, and 
let 's hear the end of it, for goodness' sake." 

Lena went away as she was bidden, and in time 
Madame Merino regained her equanimity. Her quills 
were never aspike for long, but subsided to their 



ELEMENTARY JANE 153 

usual sleekness as easily as they bristled, and nearly as 
fast She thought little more of the matter. But Lena 
thought of it a good deal, puzzling and puzzled. 

Curley, it happened, on the next day, had an alter- 
cation with Monze, in the course of which such 
terms were used by the elder as " Are you going 
to do what I tell you?" and "Am I master or am 
I not?" But though Madame trembled for the issue, 
the afiair, for the time, closed amicably. Curley 
never sulked ; but the engagement at the Broadway 
having finished the night before, and nearly a wedc 
elapsmg before the troupe were due at the Hozton 
for their next, he felt that he had lost a favourable 
opportunity of making the break he contemplated, 
and something like a frown was to be seen on his 
forehead for the rest of the morning. 

It was now, however, that Lena put in her oar. Ad- 
mixing her brother as she did from a distance, and 
deeming the moment auspicious for an attempt to es- 
tablish herself in his good graces, she contrived to 
convey to him that she at least had been of opinion 
with him in the recent question at variance. A judi- 
cious administration of flattery soon induced the mag- 
nificent Curley to unbend, and to her pride she found 
him conversing with her. 

"He 's very hasty, Monze is," she said reflectively, 
"and he don't seem to remember that we ain't child- 
ren all our lives — and mother, she 's just the same. 
Why, yesterday . . ." and then came the story of 
Madame Merino and the words Family History. 



if! 



hi 



1 :i 



I! ;ll 



154 ELEMENTARY JANE 

It was Curley now who pricked up his ears. He 
questioned Lena in and out, thinking busily the while. 

Many little incidents, barely noted at the time of 
their occurrence, recurred to him ; many an allusion 
and a look — things that had happened in his child- 
hood ; things he had forgotten now. The very differ- 
ence between him and the others. 

"She said it to father?" 

"Yes." 

Monze, of course, knew. Nor had there, perhaps, 
been any deceiving. A taking for granted had been 
suffered to be, and the rest was automatic Indeed, 
had Curley himself not helped by his assumption, it 
was possible tliat his eyes would never have been 
bandaged (these things counted for littie in the walk 
of life trodden by Monze and the Family). H'm, 
thought Curley, and H'm. A gap of three years sepa- 
rated him from the next bom. Monze had married 
his mother. 

He gave a little laugh. 

" Why, it's as plain as the nose on your face," he 
said, aloud. 

" What is? " asked Lena with eagerness. 

He would not tell her, and went his way whisding. 

As to that which his mother had meant by his 
" family history," he could not do more than conject- 
ure, nor had he indeed much concern. The discovery 
gave him his freedom, for by a reasoning sufficiently 
strange he held himself quit of all obligations to 
Monze, and he went to seek Camden and Carson. 



CHAPTER XVI 

The rupture itself followed quickly. Curley came 
back from his errand in high feather. He was on good 
terms with himself and the world, and he would have 
wished his secession to be effected peaceably. But 
this he was sure might not be. 

Nor was it Curley waited till the nest day and 
spoke boldly. The amiable head of the troupe broke 
into choler at once. He made use of a full and a for- 
cible vocabulary, and refused to let Curley go. He 
might have been Pharaoh, and Curley the Israelites, 
and his tone, to be just, wasincensive. An answering 
wrath kindled quickly in Curley. Let ? he asked. Let ? 
What was that ? He had an offer and meant to ac- 
cept it Madame Merino, torn in two ways, knit her 
brows. Curley, her firstborn and beautiful, was worth 
better things than a life in the outlying halls. Monze 
was of husbands the kindest and best and had loved 
her for near twenty years. 

Her love for her husband, her love for her son, and 
something of humanity and of real emotion underly- 
ing all the coarse and vulg^ar things that were said in 
the scene that ensued, redeemed it from pure ugli- 
ness. Curley even was not without heart of a sort 
He cared for his mother and the man he had always 
called father, and he cared in a fashion for Perky and 



I 



156 ELSMENTARY JANE 

Lena and Fritz. But his interests and his affection 
collidine.it was plain which must g^o to the wall. He 
slashed right and leh in his anger. The troupe was 
seedy and shoddy and fit for the streets or a fair. You 
would see better stuff in a booth. He, for his part, was 
ashamed to be seen in it, and not for much longer, 
and so on . . . 

Monze on his side said the cub's head was turned, 
and that it was a pity the police had interfered upon 
an occasion which all might remember, to prevent his 
getting the thrashing he deserved. 

Madame Merino, albeit atremble and on the verge 
of tears, could not hear the word Cub in silence. 
" A good word enough," shouted Monze in retort, 
and broke off with a look that seemed to speak of 
things he might add if he chose. But Curley laughed 
loud— to be told with an oath he should laugh very 
soon on the other side of his face, whatever a pro- 
phecy so threatening might signify. 
"Who's going to make me? " cried Curley. 
Madame Merino veered like a vane in a changing 

wind. 

Curley was gettingtoobig for his boots, she avowed, 
and how dared he speak so to his father I 

" Father ? " said Curley, " Father ? Do you suppose 
I don't know? I 'm no fool." 

Monze and his wife exchanged looks. The one look 
said, " I never told him" ; the other, " Nor I " ; and 
both of them, " How does he know it? " 

Curley in turn eyed his mother and Monze and 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



157 



11.:) 



thoug^ht he had the advantage (though Heaven knew 
why I), and thinking so laughed once again. 

" Nobody told me," he said. " I just knew for my- 
self. I 'd only to of)en my eyes. Look at the differ- 
ence between me and the rest. Father? You began 
to be Father at Perky — a year or two later; mind 
y", I don't blame anybody." (Curley could recover 
his temper as quickly as his m> ther, and could be as 
generous and indulgent 1) " Nor yet I don't care. 
But when it came to Monze saying I can't do as I 
like, I say he 's no claim on me." 

Merino, however, had something to say after that, 
and Madame a word or two. The war seemed be- 
ginning — not over. Voices were loud in abusings 
that need not be chronicled. Curley, his generosity 
and forbearing^ess thrown, so to speak, in his face, 
lashed out into anger at once. He set his teeth. 
Monze said, " It's that, is it ? " Curley came nearer; 
then Monze. 

Said Madame Merino, " For God's sake I " 

There was a holding of the breath and a deadly 
look in the eye. Curley's fist doubled. 

"No nonsense I" said Monze. His hand on Cur- 
ley's arm sent the hand of Curley, unfolding, to 
Merino's collar. For the space of the shutting and 
the opening of an eye neither stirred or spoke. The 
wife and mother grew pale to the lips as the husband 
and the son stood up to each other in ominous still- 
ness. 

" Monze," she breathed, scarce speaking ; " Monze." 



13* 



SLBMBNTARY JANE 



He loowned hit bold ; Curley his ; then Merino 
said, " Go " ; and that was the going of Curley. 

They heard him leave the house whistling. His 
steps rang on the pavement outside, and seemed 
by their buoyancy to insist upon his indifference. 
Madame Merino went to the window and watched 
him out of sight His aspect was unruffled. He did 
not turn. She looked up at the sky. It was low and 
grey. The room appeared to her dieerless and deso- 
late when she turned back to it 

"Where's Curley?" said Lena at tea-time that 
day. 

Silence was her answer. Madame Merino's eyelids 
were pink, and the tea splashed on to the table as 
she poured with dimmed aim. She drew her hand 
across her eyes and poured straight Monze looked 
grim; Lena a thousand questions. She repeated 
"Where's Curley?" 

" Eat ch' tea," said her mother shortly. 

Perky looked up from "The Boys of London," one 
finger on a line that ran thus : Throwing back her 
head with a gesture at once haughty and defiant, the 
proud girl turned to face the Earl. There was that 
in the air to arrest the attention, or his liad not wan- 
dered at a juncture so thrilling. He saw that his 
mother had been crying ; that his bther was out of 
sorts, and that Lena was agog with curiosity. Fritz 
was occupied with a large slice of bread and jam, 
but his eyes grew round like Lena's. 

Curley was often absent from meals. What of it' 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



159 



Perky was sorry his mother had been crying. Lena 
and Frits would do no good by staring. He returned 
to his paper to learn how the Proud Girl received 
her Betoayer, but the intangible disquietude ! )l1owed 
him. Things were not as usual. Madani< Merino 
was preoccupied. She crumbled her bre> ', ^.m ('<ir,- 
veyed it in fragments to her mouth, lor . im ; • c uut- 
ter it She seemed to listen for soucls, \:rl glii.nc .' 
more than once at the door. Monz inov -d imi i 
tiendy and frowned, Perky even (jcadinf.' Uihahd 
me, or by Heaven . . . and NbUe Presemer, b>)u .</ •/' 
me your long-lost sister, and the like) knew h mv rue 
restless Lena's eye sought his. Monze pushed away 
his cup when he had finished. 

" No good you watching the door," he said to his 
wife " He won't come back, if I know him — unless 
it's to fetch his things." He felt for his pipe and 
added, "Not him I" 

"Curley?" said Lena, "Curley?" 

"Yes, Miss Inquisitive, Curley, if you want to 
know. Now you've got it, see. You've been agape 
long enough." 

It was three were agape after that. Perky dropped 
his paper. The Proud Girl and the Earl and the 
Noble Preserver took their true value at once and 
lay forgotten under the table, till Madame Merino 
found them in " tidying up," and said " Here, ' Bo3rs 
of London.' Some rubbish of yours, Perky." Fritz 
paused in munching. Lena's eyebrows went up half 
an inch. 



I60 



ELEMENTARY JANE 






"Corley gone? Gone where?" she asked; and 
then questions tripped themselves up on her tongue. 
Perky put a few, and Fritz. 

Monze explained briefly that Curley was going to 
better himself and that the Family henceforth num- 
bered one less. He alluded indefinitely to the altera- 
tions that would have to be made in the performance, 
and in speaking of the delinquent displayed on the 
whole a remarkable moderation. Madame Merino 
looked at him gratefully. 

" But that's Monze," she said to herself. "That's 
my Monze, and the kindest heart in the profession." 
Her eyes filled with tears. 

" Curley 's an ungrateful beast," she thought pres- 
endy. "He'll come to repent it, and serve him 
right Treated as Monze treated him from >.he first 
— never a bit of difference made 'twixt one and an- 
other unless to make more of him, p'r'aps, than the 
rest, and then to turn on the hand that befriended 
him . . ." 

She broke ofi to think of her early misfortune. 
" Bred in the bone, he 's the son of his father," she 
took up her plaint "How did his father use me? 
. . . If I'd cared ... and I did n't, thank God I . . . 
and then there was Monze and never a word in my 
teeth. But Curley to act so 1 It 's shame to me now. 
'Claim 'I 'Claim 'I such a wordl Knock me down 
with a feather you could when he said it And him 
bold as brass to stand up to his father (as he'd 
thought and believed him). Good Lord ! " 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



I6i 



.i' 



Righteous anger possessed her. The boy should 
be put from her heart He was " selfish, worthless, 
impudent," a " young vagabond," a " Cub " (yes, 
Monze was right and " Cub " was good enough) and 
much else that was damnable. But in the end, as at 
the beginning, he was her son — her very own for the 
story of him. 

Her heart was not to be steeled against him. The 
sight of a scarf of his that hung on a hook on the 
door told her that he was Curley, the prettiest lad in 
all England. Where would you see such another? 
She thought of his smile, of his laugh, and his beau- 
tiful shape; of her pride in him; of his childhood 
and boyhood, and now his ambition, guessing at it 
Monze must not blame him, nor she. What was, had 
to be. Sooner or later, had she not felt it known it? 
— he had been bound to go. Young birds spread 
their wings. The manner only of his action was 
culpable, and this, perhaps, had been forced upon 
him by the circumstances of the moment Monze 
after all had said Go, and Curley, perhaps, would 
have waited. 

As during the batde she veered, so veered she 
now. Monze must be won. He was quick to anger, 
but not unreasonable. He had been twenty himself. 
He would see. 

Lena and Fritz made a babel. Even the quiet 
Perky talked glibly. Consternation was general. 

Monze rose to go with a " Sh, I can't hear myself 
speak," and Madame Merino did what she had not 



i6a 



ELEMENTARY JAIffi 



done for years ; she followed him to the passage to 
help him on with his coat and to kiss him. 

"Why — old woman I" he said. 

"You won't hate him?" 

" I 've a thing or two to forget." 

" So have I," she said quickly. 

" He 's young," said Monze. 

"Ah, that's it, that's it." 

She clutched at the straw. But she was not to 
drown, and blessed Monze for it 

" I think of how I 've loved that boy," she said, 
" and him to serve you so. I remember when he was 
a baby the fancy you took to him. It was that first 
made me look at you to love you. I 'd seen you often 
enough on the tor, and I 'd thought to myself you 
were pretty enough for a woman to love you, but 
never did I think of you twice till the day I saw you 
and the boy. He stretched out his arms to you (it 
seems just like yesterday) and you took him and 
danced him, and when he fell asleep you let him lie 
in the hoUow of your arm that I 'd only thought of 
as muscle and sinew — the arm for the bar and tra- 
peze. It was then I knew the heart of you, Monze ; 
you 've loved him, too." 

" I 'm not the only one maybe that he 's made a 
fool of," said Monze. 

Madame Merino perked up. 

" Meaning me ? " she said. 

So near was her laughter to her tears, and hope 
leapt in herl 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



163 



" Meaning you, and we shan't be the last Meaning 
any that 's silly enough to care for him." 
" Which is saying he 's Curley." 
"No less." 
" God bless you," said Madame Merina 



'■f 



I Hi 



CHAPTER XVII 

CURLEY, to be explicit, had not intended to break 
thus summarily with his family. He had thought to 
see out existing engagements — never, indeed, seri- 
ously believing that he could be free at shorter notice, 
and dimly cognizant of such potential impediments 
as injunctions to restrain (or whatever the law might 
call them) in the way of any other procedure. A 
month he had instanced to Camden and Carson as 
the soonest at which he could join them, and, their 
own arrangements making a change in their per- 
formance impossible for three fourths of that time, 
the date he suggested had seemed likely to suit them 
as himself. 

His immediate freedom, however, was not to be 
regretted, and it was no affectation of light-hearted- 
ness that sent him whistling from the house. He 
went to his new friends. 

The three drank success to their enterprise. Cur- 
ley's spirits rose high and higher. 

" Camden, Carson, Curley— the Three C'sl" he 

said. 

"Not so bad when you come to names," said 
Camden. 

" We might do worse," said Carson. 

"And not come to blows," ssdd Curiey under his 
breath. 



ELEMENTAKY JANE 



I6S 



The Three C's it was. 

Then arrangements were discussed. Curiey's story 
had to be Iward once or twice mcn«. 

"Monze said 'Go,'" said Curley, "and I went 
Lucky we were having a week off." 

Then Curley (having by the suddenness of his 
departure but what he stood up in) made provision 
and shift for the night. 

The aext day he chose an hour at which he divined 
the troape would be rehearsing in their curtailed 
number and went home for his " things," first, how- 
ever, sounding his conjecture by sending a child on 
to find out ii the coast were clear. This proved to be 
the case, and he went to the house, where he pro- 
ceeded to pack h» clothes at leisure, humming the 
while. The landlady, however, came up of curiosity 
to deliver herself of " Not at the 'all ? " and was told 
lighdy Not — as she saw for herself. She became 
abristle with curiosity theicapon. Something had 
happened, and she had not heard of it 

"Well, I never I" she said. "Yoa're not going 
away I " 

" Looks like it," said Curley, and shouldered his 
bag. 

" But Mr. and Madame and die Family — " 

Curley chose to misunderstand. 

" We ain't riKWting the moon, you know." 

("Just as M . . . and the very ideal" as she ex- 
jdained to his mother afterwards, " but he will have 
his joke 1") 



■ i: 




fli6 ELEMENTARY JANB 

She tried coaxing. 

" Yo« might ten me," she said. 

" And again I mi^ not," said Curley. 

" Such an old friend ... my lodgings on and off 
these two years, and not to tdl me 1 You would not 
serve me so." 

Curley said " Mind 1 " — the bag near her head as 
he passed her. At tlw door he turned to add : " Look 
out for The Three C's." 

" Whatever 's he mean 1 " she said in protest 

Curley laughed. (" Merry as a skylark." she de- 
scribed him later.) 

" And is that all 7 " she asked him. 

" That 's all," said Curiey — " except pVaps good- 
bye to yourself and love to mother and the kids." 

He went his way whisding as before and took a 
hansom. 

It was ten days after this that there occmred the 
meeting with Jane, which ended in her forgiving him, 
as we know. This meeting he took lightly enough at 
the time. But he thought of her li[>s afterwards, and 
was restiess for an evening. For Curley, however, 
there were other girls in London. Three days passed. 
He thought himself cured. He worked hard with his 
partners ; rehearsals were then in full swing, and satis- 
factory arrangements in progress. 

A fortnight after the conclusion of the engagement 
of Camden and Carson at the Aquarium, The Three 
C's opened their campaign at the Oxford and scored 
a signal success. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



167 



Monze read of it in the " Era" that week, Madame 
having read. What he should say was the test of his 
nature. She waited, and Monze said, "Well done." 
Madame Merino repeated his words, but she applied 
them to him and not Curley. She was as proud a 
wife that day as she was a proud mother. 

She delivered a lecture to Perky and Lena and 
Fritz. 

" You value y' father," she said. " There never was 
one like him, and there'll never be another. He's 
just a masterpiece, that's what he is — a perfect 
masterpiece." 

They assented in their various ways, and wondered 
what Monze had done. 

Curley now found himself prosperous. Money jin- 
gled in his pockets. He lived well and thought litde. 
He had not a questioning mind. But he was gener- 
ous, and when Monze came to see him he received 
him with cordiality and allowed bygones to be by- 
gones. So ready was he to forgive and forget ! (Poor 
Curley of the beautiful form and the hollow heart 1) 
To his mother also he suffered himself to be recon- 
ciled — never really, as he explained to her, having 
borne her any ill-will. 

"Ill-will," said Madame, "ill-will? And what for, 
pray? I should think not, indeed." 

" I say I have n't," said Curley. 

He must have been laughing, after all. 

" Some one '11 suffer by you," she said, shaking her 
head. 



168 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



liiit 






But it «■ s good to have him with her at any price, 
and she forbore to reproach him. Lena and Fritz 
hung about him, till he said. That would do. 

Perky walked home with him. Curley talked of 
himself. He was on (.ood terms with the universe. 

" You 've gone up o.t)->," he said, at last, " have n't 
you?" 

Perky admitted t^^l (he matter could be viewed in 
that light He did not enlarge, however, upon the 
advancement he was enjoying through the secession 
of his brother. He preferred to talk of Curley. Nor 
was Curley loth to return to himself. 

" You must come up and see us one night," he said. 

" Yes," answered Perky, " I mean to. But it can't 
be this week." 

The Family were performing in East London then. 

" Well, when you can. And bring the mother and 
Monze." 

Curley suggested a drink. A house of public enter- 
tainment was at hand. 

"No? Then I will. So long. And be good I" 

He turned in at the swing-doors with a nod and 
the begfuiling smile ttiat Perky knew so welL 

In due course the Merinos visited the Oxford and 
saw the performance of The Three C's. 

Madame Merino looked excited as a child. A 
running stream of intelligent technical appreciation 
flowed from Lena's lips as she watched the trio. 

" That youngest one 's my ste{)son," Monze con- 
fided to a neighbour. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 169 

Curley introduced him to liia partners later and 
compliments were exchanged. 
"You trained him?" said Camden. 
"WeU, yes." 
" He's a credit to you." 

To Madame Merino the pair were presented. 
" His loolcs from his mother," said Carson gallandy 
at the table in the Soho restaurant to which the party 
repaired for supper. 

"Go on, Mr. Carson," said Madame Merino, all 
smiles and brown velvet But she frowned when she 
saw Curley's glass brimming. 

" You might keep an eye on him now and again," 
she said, in a burst of confidence bom of her anxiety 
and the expanding influence of supper. "I've just 
one fear about Curley, and that's — " 

She nodded, and Mr. Carson followed her glance. 

"Well, p'r'aps two fears I have," she said reflect- 
ively— " two, maybe three. But that 's one." 

She did not despond, however. The occasion was 
for rejoicing. 

" As his mother you '11 guess I 'm proud of him," 
she said, remembering this. 

Lena was saying to Ctu-ley : — 

" I wish I was you." 

Perky looked pleased when Curley addressed him, 
and Fritz devoured his three hosts with round eyes. 

Monze was anecdotal and told stories of his step- 
son's sharpness. Tte recent rancours were forgot- 
ten. 



I]0 ELEMENTARY JANE 

It was Curley's evening, a» an evening that we 
femember had been the evening of Jane. 

The sun the moon and the eleven stars bowed 
down as in Joseph's dream. Curley, too, had dreamed 

once. . 

Thus did Fortune smile on Curley at the same 
time that she smUed upon Jane. For each did her 
smUe bid fair to be permanent Jane in a year estab- 
lished a very creditable position, and The Three C s 
a reputation that was notable. In this year it hap- 
pened that Curley and Jane met but thrice. Each 
time Curley remembered her for a brief space and 
then forgot her. Three tunes did the seed (but itwaa 
the seed of some flower red as fire) spring up in the 
shallow ground and three times wither away, lackmg 
deepness of earth. Jane, as we know, was not near, 
that was all, and of nearness came passion in Curley. 
The same town held them both. They followed difier- 
ent lines of the same profession. Their calling led 
them to like places. Sooner or later the paths must 
converge. Jane knew this vaguely, and put the 
thought from her. Her subconsciousness held it as 
wax an impression. Curley, not thinking of it, may 
have known it too. His attitude at least was consist- 
ent with waiting. 



CHAPTER XVni 

The brooch was sent back, but reappeared the next 
day. The stage doorkeeper gave it to Jane, and saw 
her expression of dismay. He winked at a friend. 

Jane was frightened — pestered with offers of love, 
lonely and longing to he loved. Michael would have 
been her refuge at such a time, but Micliael was re- 
presented by silence. He had forgotten her, she told 
herself. She still lodged with Mrs. Kerridge, but va- 
rious improvements had taken place in her quarters. 
The room next to hers having become vacant upon 
the moving of the embroidresses to Dalston, Jane 
had taken it, and was furnishing it as a sitting-room 
by degrees and as her means permitted. Both rooms 
had been papered and painted. The piano Jane 
longed for had been hired. She bought some chintz 
and made curtains. With her own nimble fingers, 
moreover, she covered the chairs her mother had left 
her, and by the judicious expenditure of a few pounds 
she made herself a home in which she was not 
ashamed to receive her friends. Here Nelly Ching- 
ford came to see her, and others — Birdies, Grades, 
Mahrees. She had a good many photographs now — 
some of herself, some of her acquaintances and signed. 
The inscriptions were significant. Lilla (at, say, thirty- 
five) was " Your loving litde Friend" upon one; the 
counterieit presentment of a young person in tights 



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173 ELEMENTARY JANE 

was modesdy endorsed, " Boisie Bredalbane (Queen 
of Song) " ; and below a group of coryphees was 
written, " To dear Jenny from Six Lady Friends : Ruth 
Rawson, Pixie Westmoriand, Laura Vane, Emmeline 
Mason, Cora Flood, and Georgina Jackson." 

Of such was the Kingdom of Bohemia. 

Jane got "notices" now, and pasted them into a 
book. To this, when she was depressed, she went for 
comfort, and read that she was a bright litde Serio, 
that she was Pretty Jenny Tandem and had a Flute- 
like Voice ; that she had given " The Lane where the 
violets nestle" with the Accustomed Charm ; that a 
Very Promising Little Singer had appeared in the 
person of Miss Tandem ; that Miss Tandem was The 
Popular Favourite ; that she was Jenny of the Sea- 
blue Eyes ; that she was Jenny of the Dainty Ankles ; 
that Silk Stockings Became them (a pink notice this) ; 
that she was Our Jenny ; that she took the Cracknell ; 
and much else expressed in like impersonal, witty, 
and dignified manner. 

Jane did not yet, except where her engagements 
made the extravagance necessary, "ride in her 
bro'ham," as Mrs. Kerridge had tentatively prophe- 
sied, but the day had come, none the less, when she 
found herself able to indulge her wish to give, and 
the wardrobe of her friend and landlady received 
many a Httie addition and alteration at her affection- 
ate hands. The promised mantle marked the day 
when Jane found her salary more than she " knew 
what to do with " ; but her taste had changed with the 



ELEMENTARY JANE ,„ 

year of wider experiences and bronze beads had lost 
their allurement. Mrs. Kerridge was aided in choos- 
ing black silk. 

Jane spoke, too, a shade more correctly. When she 
thought about it she picked her words — if as I fear 
she mmced them a litUe, and used the bastard Eng- 
lish of the worid in which she moved; but on the 
whole her accent and mode of expressing herself 
were improved and improving. She sang better, giv- 
ing fuller value to her notes and her syllables. Ele- 
mentary Jane was a year older. 

With increased means she read more. She had not 
wholly abandoned the penny novelette, but thence 
she was looking upwards. She said of certain books 
that they were very nice. On her table lay " East 
Lynne," for which she reserved superlatives, and 
Hawthorne's " Scarlet Letter." which she had bought 
second-hand, attracted by the tide, and termed " very 
nice," though the bit of worsted that formed her 
book-marker remained stationary in the second chap- 
ter. For newspapers there were the " Era" and the 
"Entr-Acte." Governments might come and go 
wars threaten, empires fall, Jane read Music Hall In- 
telligence. Artist's Wants, and all the Cards— the 
last with intense enjoyment, for her own was amongst 
them. It recorded two halls, sometimes three. Happy 
Miss Tandem I It was a strange worid, this worid of 
hers, judged by the Cards. Therein each blew his 
own trumpet, and sturdy the blast I Stout lungs and 
enduring to such blowings as these! The wall for 



■■I' 



174 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



11 



shyness and modesty I Even humble, retiring Jane 
was The Charming Ingenue. Nelly Chingford de- 
clared herself The Joy of London ; Alfie Le Roy (of 
whom mention has been made and now an acquaint- 
ance of Jane's) was The Beautiful Serio, and Manag- 
ers were Respectfully begged to beware of Colour- 
able Imitations. Also (fancy having free play) they 
were to see that they got Her ; and the card ended 
enigmatically with something about striking only on 
the Box. As lively a wit characterized a dozen others. 
Not a few contained personal and intimate messages ; 
An Eccentric Comedian and Female Personator 
thanked Some One Esquire for kind enquiries after 
the health of his wife and the little one. A Burlesque 
Actress and Dancer enumerated her triumphs, and 
bore no malice towards that young lady (so-called) 
who had tried (unsuccessiiuily) to spoil her stay in 
Bradford. The Sisters Soda wanted it known that 
they had concluded a prosperous and happy con- 
tinental tour (with return visits to Paris, Brussels, 
and Vienna), and wished to acknowledge the great 
benefit to be gained from the use of Jones's Poudre 
de Neige in preference to other face powders. A 
Comedy Vocalist (to be a Comedj- Vocalist, think of 
it !), The Biggest Draw ever known at Highbury and 
North Kensington, was Disengaged. A few ladies 
were Resting. 

Jane, troubled by the persistent brooch, went to 
her praise-book for solace. Surely some day there 



ELEMENTARY JANE ,75 

would be offered to her a love that would be welcome 
and honest There were times when she conceived 
love her right; there were others when, looking 
round and seeing sorrow and sickness and death in 
the worid, she felt that love was a thing that not 
many were granted, and so a priceless concession. 
To not many was given the joy of a love that was 
lawful. All round her she saw people straining at 
happiness each in his way, and Jane could have wept 
for them all. She heard of love and love and love 
thought of it, sang of it— saw it and it was base.' 
But love of no sort had gripped her as yet. 

One letter broaching marriage had reached let 
"Dear Miss" (its beginning) did not strike her ai 
ludicrous, nor even its matter and mann- -, eT> 
tesque. The writer admired her " refined a j," was 
a licensed victualler (and frank — to intimate detail), 
spoke of a corner house in a busy thoroughfare and 
doing so many casks weekly, thought he could make 
her happy, and desired her acquaintance. A postscript 
added " View : Matrimony. Intentions strictly honour- 
able." But Jane shook her head as she read. Her pub- 
lican in his frankness had mentioned his age. To Jane 
forty-five was as threescore and ten. She wrote back : 
("Dear Sir" her beginning) and said like a child: 
"Thank you very much for your kind letter," but pro- 
ceeded to declare that she had no thought of chang- 
ing her lot 

" Dear Miss," came the answer, " your favour to 
hand. No offence meant and none, I trust, taken. If 



176 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



li 



•wm 



you '11 pardon me saying so you might do worse than 
consider my proposal. I am of a loving and affection- 
ate disposition and feel sure we should have suited 
each other. I may mention I own house-property in 
Brixton and Kennington, and am a member of the 
Church of England. Think it over once again and 
Oblige." 

Jane thought it over, was shy, could not make up 
her mind to see him, and wrote as before. She was 
relieved and remorseful when his third letter an- 
nounced the relinquishment of his suit 

Her other admirers did not hint at marriage. Jane 
neither drew herself up to her full height nor cried 
" Shame 1 " with flashing eyes. She behaved, indeed, 
very inferiorly to the Proud Girls of Pe.ky Merino's 
fiction. She was alarmed rather than shocked, for 
Give and Take had it in Bohemia and the words o' Nelly 
Chingford ; and a dodging in her exits, to avoid, if it 
were possible, a meeting face to face with her lovers, 
was her course, rather than any attempt to confront 
them with her sense of their infamy. 

In such encounters with them as were inevitable 
she was placed in no very serious straits, her childish- 
ness possibly protecting her, but the knowledge that 
her comingfs and goings were watched weighed upon 
her. She sent back the brooch with misgiving and 
impatience. 

"Why can't he let me alone?" she asked of her- 
self. 

" Keep it. Unkind One," came word the next day, 



ELEMENTARY JA 



177 



!M 



" for a token, if you will, of the respect of your un- 
happy admirer." 

Jane was touched in a moment 

" I don't like to," she wrote, " but I 've sent it back 
twice. I'm sorry to seem unkind, I can't help it 
rfially. I '11 keep it if you want me to as the gift of a 
friend." 

The Brooch must have been a gentleman. He kept 
silence, though Jane wore his gift. She wore it with 
pride and reluctance, wondering whether " anything " 
would be thought. A girl or two of her acquaintance 
wore diamonds. But . . . " Oh, I can't wear it I " said 
Jane . . . And, " Oh, I must just to show I believe 
him." 

"That's pretty," said Alfie Le Roy, patronizingly, 
one evening, " very pretty. The little red eyes I like 
— garnets, I suppose. I've got one something after 
the same style, only the diamonds are bigger in mine 
and I 've an emerald in the tail. Mine's a lizard too, 
and rubies for eyes. Garnets look almost as well, I 
declare, and it 's wonderful now what you can get in 
the way of paste." 

She looked closer. 

" Perhaps it 's not paste," she said. " I 'm sure I beg 
pardon." 

She looked at Jane keenly. 

Jane said, "I thought it 'd go with this dress." 

" Oh," said Miss Le Roy, " a lady with looks can 
always wear diamonds." 

Jane blushed. She blushed also when she accounted 



178 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



lor her possession to Nelly Chin^iord. Miss Ching- 
ford checked her, kissing her hot cheek. 

" You need n't tell me," she said. " I know you, 
Jenny, through and through. As if I should think 
... 1 1 know you and I hold it a privilege. There I 
That 's for yourself. And as to taking it, you did 
quite right ' 

" I don't see what else I could have done," Jane 
said, comforted. 

" More don't I and his behaviour proves it. There 's 
good that one would n't dream of in some men." 

" It's what people may think," Jane murmured. 

" What does it matter what any one thinks if you 
know you 're right." 

Jane acquiesced in the implied sentiment She 
mentioned Miss Le Roy, all the same. 

" A spiteful cat," said Miss Nell, " and no lady." 

So Jane took heart of grace. She was sensitive to 
every current, and the words of others, their approval 
or their disapproval, their good-will or their antag- 
onism, played upon her spirit as the atmosphere 
on mercury. She went home in a happier frame of 
mind. 

She might dispose of her lovers, however, fill her 
life with " Eras " and " Entr'Actes," the gossip of her 
profession and laughter and tears as she would, 
she could not dispose of the craving that lies and 
that grnaws at the vitals of each for a space and the 
heart of the world for all time. She was thus in a 
State for the parson, who might have convinced her 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



179 



of sin, and of sin in her calling ; or, failing; the mes- 
sage from heaven, for love. Love ihe deceiver, the 
false prophet, and the lying spirit, offered himself 
straightway. He came in fair guise — fair as love 
sung by Solomon. 

" Life 's what you make it," said Jane to herself, 
following out the reflections to which her talk with 
Nelly Chingford bad given rise ; and that night met 
Curley Merino. 



if 



CHAPTER XIX 

Jane with a thumping heart watched The Three 
C's from the wings. In an interval between two 
engagements she was singing at one hall just then, 
— the Royal, in Holbom, — where, emerging from 
her dressing-room a few minutes since, she had 
found their performance in progress. She had not 
known that they were expected, and felt for a mo- 
ment or two as if she must be dreaming. There 
was no doubt, however, that one wa.s Curley in the 
flesh, and the others, she supposed, were Camden 
and Carson. And fine their performance I She saw 
its excellence, and knew why Curley had left the 
Family, and why The Three C's had a name that 
was dally ascendant She forgot her misgivings as 
she watched the exquisite movements of the three 
young men. Each was supple and lithe as a panther, 
but Curley she chose as the pick of the three ; met 
his eye as he looked off ; and her own was charmed. 
It was then that her soul was cheated. The perform- 
ance ended, Curley greeted her. Jane gave him her 
hand. She was ready to go on, but her turn was not 
yet Miss Le Roy was before her. 

Curley hurried a^.ay after Camden and Carson. 
He had to be rubbed down and to change. Jane did 
not know whether she was to see him again. 

When she went on a quarter of an hour later, 



, ELEMENTARY JANE isi 

Curley was in front. He stood at the end of the 
first row of the stalls. Jane saw him. By chance he 
wore the s»rge suit that she knew ( . le had beaten 
against it once as a bird against bars, torn at it, hated 
it I), and retrospectively she thought, without being 
conscious of thinking at all, that it became him mar- 
vellously well. She sang her best, and she saw that 
he applauded her. Her eyes sparkled as her dresser 
helped her to change. She strained towards the 
mirror. 

" Keep still, there 's a dear, or you won't ave a 
blessed hook straight. There 's twice you 've pulled 
this one out of my hand, an' you 'd be glib enough to 
blame me if anything went wrong." 

Jane laughed. 

"Oh, I 'm dreadful, I know. Now . . ." 

"Mind I" 

The woman still held her. 

" Oh, please," said Jane, " be quick, be quick." 

She was like a child kept back from its compan- 
ions by a nurse. 

The glass told a tale that was pleasanv. She looked 
radiant as she sang her second song. Curley thought 
so, and travelled on quick recollection to Camber- 
well, to the lane between high hoardings and the 
hopes that had there been baiB' I 

Jane's fate closed in upon her. 

She met it with a smile. She was very happy that 
night, and Curley was waiting for her. 

" You did n't expect to see me, did you ? " 



i8j 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



<l II 



"Here?" 

(She had half expected that he would wait) 

" I mean our show." 

" Oh, The Three C's. No, I hadn't heard." 

" No one had — till last night. It was setded right 
of!. We had a date vacant, all of a sudden, through 
a disagreement." 

They walked round to the front of the house, where 
Jane saw that new bills had been posted, and stood 
there on the broad pavement talking and looking 
each into the face of the other. A few people hung 
about the entrance of the music-hall. Now and then 
some one passed out or passed in. The night was 
light ; blue above, where the lamps that dotted Hol- 
bom like pale flowers were repeated in paler stars. 
}ane looked up. Oh, the numberless stars I Oh, 
hearts that were beating and eyes that shone I 

"Let me walk with you part of the way," said 
Curley. 

Jane shook her head. 

"Why? Tell me why." 

She shook her head again. 

"Once you walked with me," she said, "and I 
hated you afterwards." 

" You don't hate me now." 

" Perhaps not, but you know the old proverb about 
a burnt child." 

"H'm!" said Curley. 

"There's another that you've heard," said Jane, 
"and it's Once bit . . ." 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



183 



'• Ah, but The Biter Bit," said Curley, " I 've heard 
of that, too. It happens sometimes. Maybe it 's hap- 
pened to me." 

He smiled, putting a sigh into his smile and some- 
thing that was plaintive into his expression. 

" And you forgave me," he said. 

" Well, you said so," said Jane. 

" Come, there 's no going back. You forgave me. 
Play fair." 

Jane's smile answered his. 

" I 've got to forget anyway," she said. 

" Another evening, then." 

" I can't promise." She paused. "But — oh some 
day, some day when — " 

"Yes?" 

" When I 've learnt I can trust you." 

They shoolc hands. He suffered her to go, and she 
went nursing joy in her heart. She did not know why 
hope dawned in her, nor did she ask herself why. 

Mrs. Kerridge saw a change in her, and recsdled 
a morning when Jane had kissed her because she 
was happy. 

" There 's good times an' bad times for all of us, 
ain't there? There's sorrer and gladness. And it's 
not you 's to be pitied, it 's plain. You 've fell in with 
a bit o' luck, that 's easy to see." 

" Oh," said Jane, " what makes you think so ? " 

"What makes me think so? You to ask that 
Bless the child. Look in the glass. There's one 
be'ind y'." 



I84 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



I Ull< 



III' 



Jane turned to look, and saw herself rosy and 
beaming. 

" You '11 tell me when the time comes," said Mrs. 
Kerridge. " I put no questions till then, for all I may 
wonder whether he's dark or fair." 

Jane's blush tingled under her eyes. 

"Ah," said Mrs. Kerridge archly, "what did I 

say!" 

Jane protested — and might protest, so her land- 
lady averred, holding that disclaimers proved her 
point 

Curley, meanwhile, upon his part, was thinking of 
Jane. The fires that had seemed extinguished were 
but sleeping, after all. Jane haunted him, dogging 
even his dreams. He rose in the night to throw open 
his window and let in the air of the dawn. His heart 
and his brain and his limbs were alike hot He pulled 
back the sleeves of his nightshirt and laid his bare 
arms on the sill. The stars were disappearing from 
the sky at the widening of a stretch of yellow that 
cut the greyness of the east, and already the crowing 
of a cock broke the stillness. Curley with impatient 
sighs noted the signs of the day's coming, and waited 
for the fever of his blood to abate. 

He saw the light creep over the sleeping street 
The first sparrow woke and chirped inquiringly ; an- 
other took up his question, then another and another 
and another, till a tree that grew near seemed alive 
with their twittering. One flew down to offal that lay 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



185 



in the roadway ; a second and a third followed ; the 
day of small things had begun. > 

From far Westminster boomed the hour, and Cur- 
ley, who had once lodged under the shadow of the 
clock tower, knew how the ponderous strokes were 
trembling on the air, and, like the note of a big 
drum, striking deep into the chest of any who lis- 
tened at hand. The last in the stillness died linger- 
ing into silence ; Curley traced it to vanishing, and 
went back to bed with cold flesh but a heart that still 
burned. 

Not thus had it ever been with him before. What 
impended ? 

With sleeping and waking the night wore away 
for him. He went in to breakfast with Camden and 
Carson as was his custom. Their rooms were next 
door, and the three messed for the most part to- 
gether. Curley played with his food, and presently 
pushed his plate from him. To push things and peo- 
ple from him was his impulse through the early part 
of the day. He (as Michael had done once) strained 
towards the evening. The hours promised to drag. 
A rehearsal at the music-hall would have been wel- 
come, but there was no rehearsal that day, the previ- 
ous morning having seen arduous work. Yet he 
could not keep his thoughts from the place where 
Jane was appearing as well as he, and where he had 
parted from her so recently. Soon his steps were 
tracking his thoughts to Holbom. He paused upon 
the broad pavement where he had stood with her 






i86 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



the night before. Daylight had changed the aspect 
of the scene. The mystery of shadows and of stars 
had given place to the candour of a shining sun. 
The traffic in the road was tenfold increased ; east 
and west it flowed in surging streams that ran side 
by side. 

Curley went into the hall. The stage was in pos- 
session of a troupe of performing dogs. The empty 
house looked dreary. A T-piece laid stress on what 
gloom it did not dispel, and Curley in abnormal mood 
had sense of things and conditions to which habit had 
long since accustomed him. A girl sat in the stalls 
waiting her rehearsal. She glanced at him as one who 
looks for distractions. A man in the orchestra yawned 
and stretched himself in an interval. Repetition was 
the order of the moment : " Again, please," to the 
conductor, and a push or a gesttire to one of the 
squatting poodles, and " Again," and " Now once 
more." Curley watched for five minutes, and yawned 
too. The dogs with bright eyes followed their master. 
Now, one would cower in admitted disgrace, now, 
wag his tail in the conscious pride of achievement. 
The girl fidgeted and rustled her sheaf of band parts. 
An attendant or two hung about the wings. Some re- 
■ pairs were in prog^ress up in the roof, and from time 
to time a strident hammering called forth a volley of 
invective from the stage. 

Curley turned on his heel and went out. His rest- 
lessness did not abate. It set him walking, demand- 
ing motion of him, and at first tliat was all. Then it 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



187 



urged a southern direction, and this Curley, driven, 
pursued. He scarcely acknowledged his purpose to 
himself, yet he had a purpose at the back of his mind, 
and so his footsteps a goal that was definite. Nor was 
this Jane's home. He had not found out her address 
(though he might have done so), and his memory 
told him no more than the quarter in which she had 
once lived. The name of the street had escaped him, 
if ever, indeed, he had heard it. He was not, however, 
going to look for Jane. 

In time he found himself near Waterioo Bridge. 
By then the ardour of his walking was cooling and 
his project must be acknowledged or abandoned. He 
hesitated and acknowledged it. He crossed the river, 
and when he reached the tram-lines took his seat on 
a car for Camberwell. 

It was now early summer, and soon he was passing 
through a district that was green and cool. Here and 
there a garden spoke of the country, and a cottage 
or two with a lawn and flowerbeds told how great 
London had engulfed a village. Trees and ivies and 
shrubs told the same tale. It seemed fitting that a blue 
sky should hang above. Curiey, unnoticing by nature, 
to-day saw clearly. 

At Camberwell Green he alighted, and thence 
struck southwest, took his bearings, and turned out 
of wide streets into narrow. The spot would be 
changed, he knew, the lane would be gone with the 
hoardings, and houses have sprung from the ground ; 
yet he wanted to see the place of his brutality and 






i88 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



there to think over the passion that promised to have 
him and his passions in subjection. (A soul certainly 
seemed to be struggling upwards in Curley like a 
litde green leaf towards the light from out of the dust 
and the ashes ; or one might be pardoned who thought 
so. Jane might be pardoned who foncied him 
changed.) 

He found what he sought, and found more. 

" You 1" he said. " Ah I " and stood still. 

For Jane and he were face to face. 



. -i^ 



m 



CHAPTER XX 

CURLEY said, "What brings you here?" and Jane, 
blushing and confused, shoolc her head. He repeated 
his question and added, "Shall I tell you?" 

Then Jane spoke hurriedly. 

"No, don't tell me," she said. 

"I'll tell you why I came, instead, then," said 
Curley. 

He was holding her hand, and she had to look at 
him, constrained by many forces which she did not 
understand. "I came here '•ecauseof you." 

" You did n't know I should be here," said Jane at 
once. "You couldn't have known. I didn't know, 
myself." 

" I came here because of you, all the same," said 
Curley. " I could n't rest because of you, and that 's 
true if I never speak another word. What have you 
done tome?" 

Jane was trembling. The colour was leaving her 
cheeks. 

" Nothing," she murmured, and tried to smile. 

"Lomething— agood deal. I 'm different even 
from what I was yesterday. You kept me awake half 
the night, and I've been round to the hall this morn- 
ing, too, and that's because I can settle to nothing, 
because of you." 

Jane drew away her liand. 



II 
I k 






190 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



" People will wonder," she said under her breath. 

" I wonder myself," said Curley. 

Jane was wondering^, too. Was this Curley 7 Curley 
who laughed and lived well ? Curley who lived for 
himself and who loved himself? Curley who had not 
stopped at the thought of outrage ? 

Jane looked away for nervousness. Her eyes met a 
row of shops, some finished and occupied, some fin- 
ished and unlet, some in course of fitting. Twenty 
yards from where she was standing, the lane had run 
between the high hoardings. How terrible they had 
seemed to her in their blankness. Curley had made 
them terrible, yet here was Curley beside her, the 
hoardings gone, and the houses seemed to smile with 
the day. She had no fear of him now, nor was the com- 
motion into which his presence threw her ungrateful 
to the senses. What did it all mean 7 

Curley was looking at her with burning eyes. She 
had to speak, and it seemed natural that she should 
speak of the place. 

" I should hardly have known it," she said. 

" Ah, you see," said Curley, " you see." 

Jane turned quickly, but moved her eyes slowly to 
his. Her expression asked what she had said. 

" You do remember 7 " he answered. 

" I 'm not likely to forget." 

" But you think different of . . . what happened." 

"Why should 17" 

" You would n't have come else." 

Jane looked down. She twisted a loose button on 



ELEMENTARY JANE 191 

one of her gloves and it came off, to lie at her feet 
for some moments, a tiny disk of shining metal to 
which her eyes were attracted again and again before 
she thought of picking it up. 

" I don't know why I did come," she said, answer- 
ing his words rather than that which lay behind 
them. 

" Yes, you do." 

They persisted in turn. 

" Then I 've got to tell you, after all," said Curley. 
" You came for the same reason that brought me — 
or one like it Yes, yes, yes. Deny it as much as you 
like. You came because you were thinking of me, 
Curley Merino, as I came because I was thinking of 
you. Confess it" 

Jane was silent 

" Answer me." 

She turned away, and looked up the street A lark 
in a cage over one of the shops burst now into sing- 
ing — sang of lanes and green fields, of streams under 
willows, of uplands yellow with sun, of joy and of 
youth and of love. The bars of his cage could not 
shut in his song from the world. Jane heard it ; and 
the boy-god stirred in his sleep and felt for his bow 
and his dart 

" Why not own up ? " said Curley with a return to 
the manner she knew. "Why not tell me I 'm right? 
I 'm not often wrong." 

" What do you want me to say ? " asked Jane, 
smiling at last " I 'd nothing to do, and I thought 



199 ELEMENTARY JANE 

I'd like to see what had been done here, that's 
all." 

"Not quite all," answered Curley. "You don't 
traipse about over London to see all the building 
that 's goingf on. If there 's nothing in what I 'm tell- 
ing you, we should n't have met." 

" I 've met you before, and it was chance.'' 

"This isn't chance. Come here." 

He walked from her a few steps. She did not move. 
He beckoned. 

"What for?" 

" Come," he said. (Imperious Curley spoke then.) 

She followed him. 

"This is where you fought with me. How you 
fought! Well, you are fighting again, but it's not 
with me. It's with yourself. Why do you fight?" 

She was standing ncn, perhaps, within a foot or 
two of the exact spot whereon she had reached the 
turning-point in her life. Her childhood lay on the 
other side of it and of the night that seemed so long 
ago. Curley had divested her of it forever. Yet was 
it Curley alone? Not wholly for her wrestle with him 
were the night and the place branded on her memory. 
Then, and there — nay, here, here, here she had met 
Michael I 

Curley saw her face change. In truth she receded 
from him as she recalled Michael. 

Where was Michael? Why had he left her? She 
had thought Curley ignoble. Was he ? Was he ? and 
were her own eyes being blinded ? Curley could be 



ELEMENTARY JANE 193 

cruel ; could take advantage of brute force. Michael 
wax thoughtful and gentle. But Michael was gone. 
Oh, wliat was she to do ? 

" I can't talk to you now," she said. " I want to 
think. I 'm not sure about anything — oh, I can't tell 
you what I mean, you 're not a girl, you would n't 
understand. I want to be alone, and you must let me 
go without following me. You must" 

" I love you and you love me." 

" I don't know. I don't know." 

"And I'd marry you," said Curleyon an impulse. 

But this seemed beside the point just then. It was 
the soul of Curley that was being weighed in the 
balance. Jane in this moment could conceive of a 
case less dire in its consequences than n-arriage. The 
question was of Curley himself, not of his readiness 
to be bound by the law. 

" If I knew that I loved him," she said to herself. 
"If I knew he loved me . . ." 

He suffered her to go and so lulled a doubt of him. 
Had she misjudged him? She pondered as she went 

Kennington was pink with may and yellow with 
laburnum. She passed Dawson Street, at the comer 
of which she used to be put down in the days of her 
engagement at the Camberwell Palace, and alighted 
from the tram-car near Vauzhall Station. Thence she 
walked to the Albert Embankment She wanted to 
see the river. She had a fancy that to watch the flow- 
ing tide would ease her troubled spirit She was be- 
wildered, and could understand neither Curley nor 



If 



194 BLBMBNTARY JANE 

herself — henelf less, perhaps, than Curley. Why had 
the sight of him left her troubled when the thought 
of seeing him that evening had so elated her that her 
happy excitement had been patent even to Mrs. Ker- 
ridge? Yes, and she had been glad to see him. But 
the surprise of it, which she remembered now with 
the surprise on the face of Curley I Yet her emotions 
had not been compounded of surprise and gladness 
only. Mingled with the first and dominating the sec- 
ond there had been a sense of shame as at detection 
or exposure. The pale things that live under stones 
might feel as she felt when the stones that hide them 
are lifted. Curley knew I Curley knew I Let him not 
tell her I This was the thought she had puf into words, 
and, in saying, " Don't tell me," the admission was 
made. She stood self-convicted before him. What 
matter ? Oh, the blue sky, and the lark that had sung, 
and the freshness and the beauty of Curley I What 
matter? What matter? She passed by the buildings 
that shut out the river, and reached the wide pave- 
ment of the southern embankment Lambeth was like 
a fishing-village to her right Low, uneven houses 
with gaps and boarded spaces flanked the road. One 
might have looked for drying nets to hang on poles 
from out of the low windows. Sunlight steeped this 
bit of London. The bare limbs of children sprawling 
in their play upon the flags recalled days when the 
world was younger. A baby, revelling in the joy of 
life and of the warm stones, had kicked itself bare to 
the waist Jane could have kissed the pink creases of 



BLBMBNTARY JANE 



>95 



Its fat little legs, and have crowed and purred over 
it for the love that sprang up in her. Oh, beauti- 
ful world I The tide was rising and flowed quirldy. 
Barges showing bright colours, greens, and vc mil- 
ions, and yellows, floated up with the stream. Here 
by her side a man or two lounged over the wall. 
Something that was leisurely and restful character- 
ized this comer of the town. Jane noted every- 
thing. 

She had wanted to be alone and to think ; was she 
thinlcing at all in the sense she had meant ? Curley 
was serious — wanted to marry her. What was her 
answer to be or (more narrowly viewed) her atti- 
tude? 

Her life, in a way, was most lonely. For safety she 
kept to herself. She remembered her lovers — that 
would be ; and the letters that frightened or plagued 
her. Curley could save her from these, and protect 
her, and cherish her — if he loved her and if she loved 
him. How to know ? For she pined to be loved, and 
the very hunger for love might deceive her. That 
she loved Curleys beauty she knew, but you don't 
marry bodies alone. All thought of Michael made 
her uncertain. Michael had withdrawn himself (seem- 
ing drawn to her), and must mean her to know he 
had shaken I'.imself free of her. What else could she 
think? Curley was changed. Time was when he 
would not have pleaded. He offered her love, and 
she wanted love grrievously. If Curley had but been 
Michael . . . Ah, that was it The root of the matter 



196 



lUMBNTARY JANB 



lay theffc Yet it wu Michael who had faUed her. not 
Curiey. 

The evening when it came found her stiii unde- 
cided. She was elated and feariul by turns. Siiecame 
^ -poseiy late, and did not see Curley's performance, 
but she Icnew he would wait for her. 

That night she consented to sup widi him. The 
conditions of her consent were clearly aet forth. She 
did not fear that he would violate them. 

"Where shaU we go?" he asked. 

"Anywhere — where you like. But somewhere 
near." 

"Choose," said Curley. "I want it to be just 
wherever you 'd like" 

"I don't know," said Jane simply. "You know 
more about places than I. I don't know any of the 
places round here. I 've only had supper out three 
times at all." 

Curley's eyebrows went up. Here was a child. 

" Four — if you count a time I want to forget and 
that we won't talk of. The other three were, once 
with Nelly Ch'ngford and Mr. Goldstein at the Cri- 
terion, and once with Mrs. Kerridge and Mr. and Mrs. 
Atwell — they're friends of mine — at a place near 
Victoria Station — I forget the name. It was my 
birthday, and that was my party ; and once at Gatti's, 
the night of Mr. Abraham's benefit when we all went 
— those that sang for him, I mean." 

" Has no one ever taken you out to supper 7 " said 
Curley. 



BLBMBNTARY JANK 



197 



"I would n't go," said Jane. 

"You've been asked and would n't go?" 

" I 've a little boxful of notes at home." 

Jane delivered herself of this proof of tempta- 
tion with a modesty that masked a pardonable 
pride. 

"Why would n't you go?" 

" I 've got to look after myself." 

"We'll go to Frascati's," said Curley. 

He was about to call a hansom when Jane stopped 
him. 

" I know where that is. I 've often passed it I 'd 
rath' walk." 

" WeU, It's only a step," said Curley, "but it's a 
funny way to take a lady to supper." 

" I 'd rather," said Jane, thinking that the walk 
would have had part in her conditions if it had oc- 
curred to her, but it had not Curley, however, was 
not rebelling. 

They reached the restaurant and went in. Curley 
led the way to the circular gallery, and looked for a 
table. Two were vacant A waiter waved his hand 
in indication of tliat presided over by himself, but 
Curley looked beyond him. 

" Would n't this one do ?" Jane said timidly, seeing 
the people were looking at her. 

"That one's better," said Curley. 

They passed on. Yet for one reason or another 
they returned to the first; and so it came to pass 
that Jane and Curley (though no one knew it) chose 



198 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



the table at which upon a time Michael had sat with 
Mr. Atherton. Here Michael's fate had been settled, 
and here sat Jane with her destiny (as she supposed) 
in the balance. 

As Michael had done, she looked about her with 
alert and interested eyes. The music-halls, in which 
so much of her time was spent now, had accustomed 
her to light and colour, but here she seemed to be 
at closer quarters with life itself. A woman recognized 
her and touched her companion. Jane saw the action 
and the look and the whispering that passed between 
the two. That was fame. Was it grateful ? Very. She 
looked pretematurally unconscious and took off her 
gloves. Her hands were white now, and their white- 
ness struck her and was a source of pleasure to her. 
She wore one ring. 

Curley saw it presently. 

"I want to give you another," he said — "one 
different from that" 

"I couldn't like any so well," said Jane. "It was 
mother's." 

A recollection of the hand that had worn it came 
to her — not a white hand. " Oh, mother 1 " she said 
to herself, " mother ! " 

"Three emeralds," said Curley, "with sue little 
diamonds between — four between and one at each 
end : I saw a ring like that to-day after I left you." 

Jane -^hook her head, but she smiled. 

A waiter filled her glass. She watched the spark- 
ling bubbles that danced to the surface. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



199 



" Are you changed ? " she said ; " are you changed 
or are you the same Curley ? " 

" Oh, I 'm changed," he said. " I couldn't now . . . 
don't you believe me?" 

" I don't know what to believe." 

"You wanted to think. Have you thought? If 
you 've thought, you must believe. Why, I see my- 
self changed. I 've never been like this before." 

That Curley should confess himself at her mercy 
was assuredly triumph for ingenuous Jane. Sov- 
ereignty seemed pressed upon her. She might grant, 
of her clemency, or withhold. 

"You mustn't be unhappy," she said generously. 

They ate for a few moments in silence. The click 
of knives and forks had its part in the sounds to 
which Jane paid unconscious heed ; a hum and a buzz 
of talk played through it, pointed now and then 
by the laugh of a woman. Dishes that were new to 
Jane tempted her appetite. The world was a smooth 
place. 

" Oh," she said, " it is all so strange." 

"What is strange?" 

" That this should be me." She gave a little laugh. 
"Sometimes I wonder if i,. is me. It's like as if it 
must be some one else: I'm Jane Smith and it's 
Jenny Tandem that all this is happening to. I never 
thought ... I would n't have believed such a litde 
while could alter my life so. Doesn't it seem strange 
to you ? " 
" You were bound to get on," Curley answered. 



aoo ' ELEMENTARY JANE 

"No — that's just where it Is," said Jane. "I 
wasn't It's been wonderful luck and somehow I 
can't quite believe in luck coming to me. I 've always 
been timid. I've always been afraid of— of some- 
thing happening. I can't explain. I used to be afraid 
of the dark, and of being alone, and of a crowd, and 
of lots of things. Luck doesn't come to people who 
are afraid. It comes to people who can use their el- 
bows. You 've heard Nelly's song." 

" 'The girl pushed through,'" said Curley, and 
hummed. 

Jane caught up the refrain and hummed too, under 
her breath. 

"The Girl pushed through — 
Such a steady girl! 
Said, ' I 'm just as good as you ' — 
Such'a ready girl! 
With her nose in the air. 
And her arms held square, 
She said, ' What 's the g^xl of elbows 
If you can't push through ? ' " 

"That 's the sort of girl who gets on," said Jane 
"That's the kind with luck." 

" The girl who helps herself," said Curley. 

"That's not me," said Jane, pursuing her thought, 
"not Jane Smith." 

Curley winked. 

" But it sounds like Jenny Tandem." 

Jane gave a little exclamation. 

"That's it," she said. "That's it I It's Jenny 
Tandem who is getting on. Jenny Tandem isn't me 



ELEMENTARY JANE 901 

at all, and one day they 'U find out that I 'm only 
Jane Smith and all my luck will leave me." 

Jane did not know that conversely Jenny Tandem 
might cheat Jane Smith. Yet Jenny Tandem had 
robbed her of Michael. 

" Oh, it is strange," she said. 

It was stranger than she thour-ht 



CHAPTER XXI 

She did not relinquish the subject at once. Curley 
devoured her with his eyes as she talked, but he did 
not alarm her as once he had alarmed her. The 
knowledge grew certain with her that it was hers to 
withhold or to accord. 

She told him of the time that had followed the 
ending of her engagement at the Camberwell, of the 
disappointments, the hopes, the fears. 

That was Jane Smith, she said comprehensively 
and in fine. 

Curley continued to look at her. Others looked at 

both. 

" That boy and prl ..." a man called them, point- 
ing them out to another. 

In truth they were like children. 

" I want you," Curley said. 

"You 've said that to more girls than one." 

" Never to mean it as I mean it now." 

" You 've thought you meant it before." 

" I know I mean it now." 

" But how am I to know? " 

" Because 1 tell you." 

His eyes were pleading. Jane came near to lovmg 
him. She let her pupils meet his in a long look. 

" If I could know ... If I could trust you . . ." 

" Listen 1" said Curley. "There have been others- 



ELEMENTARY JANE 303 

I don't deny it. But none like you, none. I'll rive 
them all up for you. I swear I will. I love you. Love 's 
changed me. You see it yourself. Look, we'll make 
It fair and square. It shall be at church if you like. 
I ain t afraid of being bound." 

Jane was silent. 

"Mother 'd be glad," pursued Curley. " She always 
M-ed you, and she 's often said she hoped I 'd marry 
young. Why won't you listen ? " 

"I am listening. I like your mother very much, 
mdeed. You know that. It's myself I'm afraid of 
-and I'm afraid of you. I can't help it. You can't 
wonder Curley. It 's a big step, and it 's for always. 
What should I do if you got tired of me?" 

"You wouldn't say that if you did n't think you 
could love me." 

Jane was silent again. 

"Tell me," he said, "tell me. . ." 

" If I marry you I shaU love you," Jane answered 
then. 

People had begun to move. Here and there a 
table was empty. A waiter yawned behind his hand. 
1 wo young men, passing out, exchanged nods with 
Lurley. and one said something to the other at which 
both laughed. The one who had spoken turned round 
to wmk at Curley, and Jane blushed. 

"You see what they think," she saia. 

"A couple of fools," said Curley. 

" But they know you, and that's why they think 
-what they think." ^^ 



i ill 

1 



004 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



" Who cares what they think I " 

"I care. I 'm like that I can't help it" 

" Then marry me," whispered Curley, leaning on 
his elbows across the narrow table, " marry me. 
There 's the last answer to what they or any other 
fools might think. Be my wife. You may n't be the 
first girl I 've liked, but you're the first I 've wanted 
to marry. Come, you love me a little bit, I know you 
do, and you know you do, but I know more than 
that..." 

" What do you know? " 

Curley bent nearer. 

" You 've loved me since . . ." 

" Stop 1 " said Jane. 

"Since..." 

Jane protested. 

"I hated you," she said; "I hated you then and 
for a long time. I only forgave you because — I 
don't know why I did forgive you, or whether I have 
forgiven you at all." 

Curley said, " Some day you '11 own it" 

" Never," said Jane stoudy ; and Curley replied: — 

"We 'Usee." 

Jane felt that she must prove to him that she had 
not loved him, and was conscious at once that the 
power on which she had been congratulating herself 
had undergone some diminution. In corresponding 
degree Curley's strength seemed to have increased. 

" How could I when I was hating you, and saying 
I 'd never speak to you again?" 



ELEMENTARY JANE ms 

"You don't hate people you care notUng about." 
said Curley. " You 're owning it now." 
" I 'm not, and I never will." 

They argued the matter, till Curley dismissed it 
with : — 

" I can wait — for that, but not for you." 
He pleaded again, and Jane felt her soven-imitv 
retummg. * ' 

She gave him no answer that night, but agreed to 
meet him the next day. He suffered her to go as 
before, nor attempted to accompany or follow her 

Then Jane's pulses beat high. Curley loved her It 
was wonderful, and she had held him off with words 
as once with her hands. She said " Me ? Me ? " to her- 
self incredulously. Later she said, " How could I ?" 
Md that was the thought that took her to the borders 
of sleep and that was waiting for her when she woke 
She lived again through the evening many times, re- 
calling Curley's tones and his looks. She knew now 
what a happy evening it had been. Nothing that had 
occurred had been lost upon her. She recalled even 
his gestures. Perhaps he was right, and she had loved 
him always. "No, no," came then from the back of 
her mind to meet "Yes" and "Yes" and again 
"Yes" from the deeper sanctuary of her heart. What 
matter if she knew that she could love him ? 

Yet she hesitated still, and for the very knowledge 
that once married to him she would love him. She 
thought she was speaking for herself when she told 
l-urley that marriage for her would mean love, and 



!j| 



006 



ELEMENTARY JANE 







did not dream that she spoke for ten thousand of her 
sisters, and touched the Icey of their ten thousand 
tragedies. Little Jane, lilce each one of us, thought 
her case (with her caution) unique. 

She liad wolce early, and sang as she dressed. 
There was a servant now in Little Petwell Street 
(such was Jane's prosperity), a slip of a girl with long 
skirts and a fringe, and a cap that flapped in draughts 
from a single hairpin. Her name was Gladys, and 
her entrances and exits were cyclonic. She appeared 
with Jane's breakfast and a letter. The sight of an 
envelope always caused Jane a tremor. Time had 
been when she had watched and waited and followed 
the postman with her eye or his knock with her ear. 
If Michael had written by chance or by fate I 

Her heart bounde and stood still. But the letter 
was from Curley. 1 irough the racket and clatter of 
Gladys's movements, Jane tried to fix her attention 
upon what he had to say to her : He had but just left 
her and was to see her again a few hours hence (a 
hurricane came from the tablecloth as Gladys, her 
cap working on its hinge, sent the drapery balloon- 
ing to flatness), yet he could not rest till he had as- 
sured her again of his love for her. Let her believe 
it, believe it (Jane's plate spun to its place, her cup 
danced in its saucer as it plumped down beside her.) 
Let her know that all night while she slept he would 
be thinking of her. (Jane's knife and her fork struck 
the board and rebounded.) To-morrow — to-day she 
m)ist answer. (The teapot was whisked from a chair, 



ELEMENTARY JANE 307 

and the plate that held a slice of fried bacon as well, 
and when the tray had been dropped and recovered, 
the gusty Gladys was gone.) To-morrow — to-day I 
Why not? Jane would answer to-day or to-morrow. 

She ate her breakfast in abstraction, rising more 
than once to go to the window. Another glorious 
day had been given to London. Its influence was in 
Curley's interest 

When the time came to start, Jane set forth with 
an open mind. She would decide as circumstances 
directed. 

Curley was first at the trysting-place. She saw him 
before he saw her, and had time to observe him. He 
was walking slowly from her, having turned in his 
pacing at the moment immediately preceding that 
which brought her in sight. She let him walk to the 
end of his beat and waited for his return. He hurried 
towards her. 

" Jenny I " 

"Curley I" 

He took her arm, and she did not seek to with- 
draw it Battersea Park was empty. Mayfair had not 
discovered it then (nor the use of the wheel), and 
Curley and Jane hk»J the path to themselves. 

Over the water Chelsea lay basking in sunshine. 

Curley said, " Have you thought of me once since 
I left you?" 

Jane put on archness and said, " Not as often as 
that" 

"Wei}, I've only thought of you once," said Cur- 



Hi 



008 



BLBMBNTARY JANK 




ley, with emphasis on the pronouns, "and that 's ever 
since, for I haven't stopped thinlcing of you yet 
You 've thought of me, too." 

" Yes, I 've thought of you.", 

" I had to write to you." 

"Had to?" 

"Were you glad?" 

"Yes." 

" And will you give me an answer to-day 7" 

Jane's little tact grew inscrutable. 

The most he could get from her then was, "We'll 
see." 

" Now, what shall we do ? " Curley asked presently. 
" We can stay where we are or go for a ride. I know 
a place not ten minutes from here where I can get a 
pony and trap, and you 've only to say the word 
and we '11 drive down to Epping Forest or Hampton 
Court" 

Jane's eyes were on the river. It ran through her 
life as it ran through London. 

" Could n't we go somewhere in a steamer?" 

"If you like." 

" Greenwich," said Jane ; " I 've never been to Green- 
wich." 

A boat was in sight 

" We might catch her," said Curley, and they be- 
gan to run towards the pier. They were laughing 
and breathless when they reached it but in time. 
Curley took the tickets, and soon the boy and girl 
were sitting side by side and close together on the 



BLBMBNTARY JANE 909 

deck. Jane** face wu aglow from the exerdje and 
excitement A year feU off her ; the was a chUd, and 
expressed herself in questions and exclamations. 
"Are you happy, dear?" whispered Curley. 
"So happy." ' 

" Have I anything to do with your happiness?" 
Jane's eyes were dancing. "Listen to that litde 
bell," she cried ; " Ting I Ting I did you hear ? That 's 
because we're coming near the next pier, isn't it? 
There '11 be another Ting ! Ting I in a minute. There I 
Look how tile water's bubbling. You can hear it be- 
ing churned, can't you? You can feel tiie machinery 
throbbing, too. I 'd like to get it all into a sonir. Oh. 
yes, I'm happy." 

Curley repeated his question. 
I Jane nodded. 

The sun sent up shafts of light from the ripples. 
Jane tiiought tiiem like bunches of shinlne knittiae- 
needles. * 

" But you can't look at tiiem to see rightly what 
they are like," she said. " They dazzle your eyes. 
Now I can't see anything." 

Presentiy she said, " I believe it 's diamonds they 're 
like —thousands and thousands of diamonds." 

"Stm tiiinking of tiie sun on the water," said 
Curley. 

The sun on the water had its share in the causes of 
Jane's present happiness, but she would not have 
been able to explain, nor did she try. The funnel 
ducked under a bridge and a sound tiiat accompan- 




•10 ILIMENTARY JANK 

led the action caught Jane's ear. It would have to 
come into the song, too, the thought 

The steamer crossed the river und recrosaed it, now 
taking up and discharging passengers on this k'de, 
now on that Buildings ugly in themselves were mode 
beautiful by the lights and shades of this fair day. To 
Jane nothing was ugly. 

" I 've got something to show you," said Curley, 
after a brief silence. 

She turned to him from her survey of the banks. 
He put a finger and thumb into a pocket in his waist- 
coat and drew thence a small box. 

"You were speaking of diamonds a minute ago," 
he said. " I spoke to you yesterday of emeralds. 
What do you think of this 7 " 

He pushed the little hook out of its eye and raised 
the little lid. The box held a ring. 

"Oh, Curley {"said Jane. 

The two were alone where they sat ; there was no 
one to see or to hear. The stones seemed to Jane like 
green lire. She looked from them to C-uley's face. 

" Oh, Curley," she said again. 

"What '8 the matter?" 

"I — I had n't given you any answer." 

"Cheer up, then," said Curley with a smile. 
" There 's no harm done, and you can send me about 
my business still if you 've a mind to. I have n't 
bought it It 's on approval. They '11 take it back and 
return my deposit, it you don't care to have it I 
thought I 'd like to show it to you, that 's all." 



BLBMBNTARY JANl 



•II 



Jane held it up. The stones sparkled in the sunlight 
as the ripples were sparkling on the water. 

" It 'd be too good for me anyway," Jane said, du- 
biously. 

" It 's easy to say that nothing 's too good for you," 
said Curley, " but I think it." 

"Oh, if I knew what to do," Jane thought "It's 
lovely," she said aloud, giving him back the box. 
" It 's lovely." 

"I should like you to try it on." 
[ Jane hesitated. 

"Then before the day 's over," Curley said. 

She nodded. So much she could promise. 
' A moment later, thinking she had been ungracious, 
she was moved to add, " I think it 's very nice of you, 
Curley." 

Past the tower and the docks and shipping and 
warehouses and wharves sped the boat that bore 
Curley and Jane with their fate, as each thought, un- 
decided. Cherry Garden Stairs — the sound of the 
words and what associations they conjured up for 
Jane — set her spirits rising again like swelling quick- 
silver. Perhaps there were orchards there once, and 
red fruit ripening in such sunshine as was warming 
and gilding this day. The world itself seemed young. 

Greenwich Hospital came in sight. Presently they 
landed. 

When they had lunched, they strolled into the 
park. Where Michael had walked thinking of Jane, 
Jane walked with Curley. Together they sat on the 



iU; 



ai3 ELEMENTARY JANE 

grass of the slopes. Long silences fell between them. 
Curley rested his head on his ann and lay back. 
Jane's hand was near him as it plucked blades of 
grass. He put his own nearer. Jane's slid into it 

" Then you love me," he said, under his breath. 

" I 'm going to love you." 

He held her hand to his lips. 

"The fight is over?" 

" I 'm going to love you," said Jane again. 

They talked for a space, of luxurious happiness, 
love and the sun and the breeze that stirred the leaves 
contributing thereto. Curiey closed his eyes. She took 
advantage of this to look at his face intently. The 
light could find no blemish in the clear fine skin. 
That struck her first ; then the curve of the eyelids and 
of the lips and the chin made her think of statues she 
had seen. Tears rose to her eyes. She was filled with 
a great pity for him, for herself, for all things living. 
She saw a blurred image. Unwittingly she had drawn 
nearer to him. He was conscious of her nearness, and 
without opening his eyes he drew her face down to 
his, whispering endearments. 
" Oh, be good to me, Curley," she said. 
" Good to you ? Why, I love you." 
" Love me always." 
He promised, protesting. 



CHAPIEIv XXTl 

To go back to Michael. 

The year of his silence, the year that had seen the 
unfolding of Jane, as a bud that opens its curling 
petals, had not left him stationary. To all appear- 
ance a tide in his affairs, as in the affairs of Jane and 
of Curley, had been taken at the flood, and was lead- 
ing him on, if not to fortune, at least to prosperity. So 
much seemed definite. But there were times when 
he wondered whether happiness came under either 
head. At such moments he was at war with his fate, 
and a restraint found its way into his manner with 
Mr. Atherton. 

Mr. Atherton kept silence then, telling himself (for 
solace, perhaps) that some day Michael would for- 
give him, would even thank him. Since a certain 
long talk which had taken place on the evening suc- 
ceeding that of Michael's arrival, and a few riders 
thereto incidental, one subject had been closed be- 
tween them. By tacit and mutual consent it was 
skirted or leapt. AU that needed to be said had been 
said, as it seemed, then or thereabout, and Mr. Ather- 
ton, having spoken, left his words to succeed or to 
fail of their intention. He had confidence in Michael, 
Michael in him, yet (the name Jenny Tandem stick- 
ing in Mr. Atherton's gorge) their joint reticence 
was based upon misunderstanding. Never, howbeit. 



•14 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



had counsel been prompted by kinder feelings or a 
more affectionate interest Michael could not resent 
advice so proSered, nor, in calmness, deny its wis- 
dom. No promise was asked of him. That he should 
not bind himself at the outset of his career (Michael 
having admitted that though he was not heartwhole 
he was free), but wait till he knew what life might 
have in store for him, was all that Mr. Atherton sug- 
gested. Jane was not mentioned. Michael had her 
in his mind ; Mr. Atherton, Jenny Tandem ; and like 
persons standing on opposite sides of an object of 
different colours and supposing them to be the same, 
neither knew that the other did not see what he saw. 
Michael was torn in two wa3rs. 

He wrote to Jane once, as we know. Loyalty to 
his patron put a check upon his pen. Loyalty also 
caused him to tell Mr. Atherton that he had written. 
He made his statement frankly and not as one who 
makes a reluctant confession. Mr. Atherton heard 
him contemplatively. Presentiy he said : — 

" Why do you tell me, Michael ? " 

Michael hesitated. 

" I think it is due to you to tell you, sir." 

Mr. Atherton put his hand lightly on the young 
man's arm. 

" I think a great deal of you for this," he said. " It 
proves to me that I am not wrong in my estimate of 
you. It is consistent with all that I know of you — 
representative almost I am not often mistaken in 
people." 



ELEMENTARY JANE 

He paused and added : — 



n$ 



" But it increases my wish tenfold . . ." 

"Your wish?" 

" That you should take your bearings before yott 
enter into any engagement." 

Michael had flushed with pleasure at Mr. Ather- 
ton's commendation. His face became grave "s the 
last words were spoken. 

" You don't like my saying that, Michael. I had 
made up my mind not to speak of it again." 

The matter dropped. Mr. Atherton said to himself 
that Michael was a gentleman through and through, 
and was moved to reconsider certain conservr.jve 
views he had held on the connection between birth 
and breeding. Michael came of the people, so far as 
he knew, and had a delicacy and a refinement that 
were obvious and incontestable. Michael, for his part, 
would have flushed more deeply had he read the 
word in the mind of his friend and his master, for it 
was not as a gentleman that he felt he was behaving 
to Jane. 

" Oh, Jane, Jane, Jane," he said under his breath, 
as it was, and his heart grew big. 

How would she take his letter with its stilted 
phrases ? Would she read through and between and 
over and under, and know that the very paper was 
steeped in love and in thought of her ? Would she 
divine the severity of the curb he was putting upon 
himself, and believe — believe . . . 

It was but for a while. He would not change, he 



|4il:H! 



ai6 ELEMENTARY JANE 

was sure. Jane would be Jane to him to the end of 
all time, let him reap what advantage fate and Mr. 
Atherton might put in his way. Jane would be Jane 
—the Jane of the child's face and the tears by the 
hoardings ; the Jane of the sweet little voice, the 
tremulous, plaintive ; the Jane of the hair like spun 
glass or spun sunshine, and the mouth of a little 
child ; the Jane of some laughter and the ways of 
a child ; the Jane of numbness and dumbness finding 
words at the parting . . . 
" Oh, Jane, Jane, Jane I " he said again. 
He set himself to work and to look forward. A 
year he gave himself — or, more properly speaking, 
gave to Mr. Atherton for the testing of his advic<;. 
After that he should feel himself free to determine 
his course. In a year, moreover, it was possible that 
he would be in a position to offer Jane a home. He 
counted the days. Late and early the sound of his 
fiddle made itself heard across the quadrangle on to 
which looked the window of his room. The day^ of 
the drum were over— the days even of tedious les- 
sons. He assisted Mr. Atherton in his duties, and in 
return, in addition to a small salary, he received such 
individual instruction from him as nothing but grati- 
tude and love could repay. Even after he had made 
up his mind to accept Mr. Atherton's suggestion and 
wait, there were times when he had misgivings on 
his account — so sure was he of the enduring nature 
of his sentiments towards Jane. Mr. Atherton gave 
so much, he (Michael) harbouring constancy to the 



£LEMENTARY JANE 017 

music-hall singer, could give so little. Pains he could 
take, and took; affection, deference, and his hearty 
allegiance he could give; but Jane owned him and 
he would not change. 

Once of his honesty he spoke what was in his 
mind. Mr. Atherton had been devoting to him an 
hour (of a time thatjwas valuable), and with persever- 
ance and exquisite patience had helped him to mas- 
ter a difficult theme. Michael had thought himself 
stupid, but Mr. Atherton's gentleness, under what 
Michael knew must have been an irritation to his 
nerves, had at least been equalled by his own atten- 
tion and anxiety to satisfy in return. 
" Once more, Michael, and you have it." 
Michael played the thing through. He kjiit his 
brows as he neared the passage that presented es- 
pecial difficulty, but conquered it with an effort that 
was not unduly obvious. 
Mr. Atherton's commendation led to his avowal. 
He looked at his master intently and said, " I f^I 
I am not acting quite fairly. There is something- 
some one we don't speak of, and because we don't 
speak of her it may seem to you that I have ceased 
to think of her. I wish I could please you in this. 
You 've done everything for me." 

"Why do you think you are not dealing fair- 
ly?" 

"I haven't given up thinking about her. I can't 
You are helping me to reach a position which may 
enable me to earn a living. Suppose it should happen 



,1i 



ai8 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



i^^ 



that you were helping me to — to — " he paused for 
a word, and not finding one broke off. 

Mr. Atherton hastened to reassure him. 

"Think as much as you want to," he said. "At 
the most, I should like you to wait before you bind 
yourself by any decision — say eighteen months or 
even a year ; and if at the end of that time you are 
of the same mind, I shall have nothing to say. But 
I don't ask you to wait at all, Michael. Understand 
that Who am I that I should meddle with your 
destinies? If my advice (I don't like so strong a 
word, but let it pass) seems good to you, follow it, but 
if not, reject it freely. I shan't like you any the less." 

It was then that Michael finally determined to wait 
the full term, let waiting cost him what it would. 
For all this time he would not see Jane — perhaps 
even abstain from writing to her. She might forget 
him, might even marry, but these were hazards which 
had to be faced. The knowledge that these chances 
were against him was bitter enough sometimes, but 
more bitter was the thought of what Jane would 
inevitably think of him, and the belief (though this 
was mingled with a sort of negative comfort) that 
she would suffer on his account. Her suffering and 
his own were not to be avoided. Life demanded this 
suffering of them both. Kismet I 

So work was his refuge and his hope. He was 
working for Jane. He had admitted as much even 
to Mr. Atherton, and need no longer reproach himself 
with unfealty. Jane was his prize in the race, and he 



':m\ 






ELEMENTARY JANE •19 

would win her. Fate meant the one for the other— 
then what was time? He would work for a year and 
a half cheerfully. 

Mr. Atherton, to do him justice, wished less that 
Michael should forget the music-hall singer than that 
(and for the young man's own sake) he should give 
himself an opportunity of wider vision before focussing 
his regard upon one whom he had seen under the 
narrower conditions of former days. That he expected 
Michael to forget her was probable. The loves of 
youth were not long loves, he held, whatever might 
be the length of his thoughts, and he believed that 
he had gauged his fellow-creatures to some purpose. 
He encouraged Michael to work — and not at music 
alone. He was no half-hearted friend. He had taken 
Michael in hand, and, if it lay in his power, he meant 
him to rise to that worid to a place in which his 
inborn refinements seemed to entitle him. Michael 
was a genUeman at heart; Mr. Atherton intended 
him to be one by education and manners, and had 
good material to work upon. 

He observed Michael quietly, and by the end of 
a few weeks he could not suppose him to be suf- 
fering very grievously. Nor was he. His mind and 
his body were healthily active, and he did not brood 
unduly. That there were times when the ache for 
Jane would not be stilled and found expression in 
a demeanour strained and reticent has been said ; but 
it would not have been natural that he should suffer 
continuously, and he did not His life, on the con- 



n 



'■ 



II 

i 



■ il 



fli:i 



020 ELEMENTARY JANE 

trary, was full and happy with intervals only of de- 
pression. He had now companions of his own age, 
and (though with a reserve that was temperamental) 
he made friends easily. But Michael forgot not Jane. 
He was as cognizant of her progress as if he had 
been in communication with her ; for he followed the 
records of it in the paragraphs that gave chronicle of 
her little successes. He could have told you at what 
halls she had sung and the name of her new song. 
He looked at her card weekly, albeit knowing it 
by heart But of her private life he knew nothing. 
Sometimes he held his breath for the pitfalls that 
must lie in her path. Admirers there must be about 
her now, and lovers to whom she would seem fair 
game. God keep her, and God keep her straight — 
though straight or not (so much had philosophy 
taught him) she would be Jane still and he would 
love her to the end. Thoughts of Curley at times 
disturbed him . . . 

When Mr. Atherton observed signs of restlessness, 
he devised some distraction. Music was the atmo- 
sphere they breathed, then away from music he was 
taken. The 'theatre became a source of great enjoy- 
ment to them both, and at one time or another they 
saw much that was worth seeing. 

Michael expanded as a plant, and looked towards 
Jane as a plant to the light Six months saw no 
abating in his purpose. He heard Jane in his music, 
read her into his books, found her in pictures; judged 
by her, saw through her eyes, and tried to look into 



t 



ELEMENTARY JANE mi 

her heart Still he kept silence. Fate was to settle 
the question, and give or wi' ihold her. Mr. Atherton 
did not suspect the strength of his love for her. 
Michael knew that and lauphed, and repented the 
laugh as often as not, for his master had, besides 
gratitude, a share of his heart. In the late summer a 
new pleasure was given to Michael ; Mr. Atherton took 
him to Paris, and showed him a city of art and of 
pleasure. Michael remembered a day at Greenwich 
when he had guessed vaguely at the delights that life 
might hold and had devoted his thought to Jane. 
Some day — who knew? — he might be showing her 
Paris. He even prized the knowledge that he was 
gaining, on her account. Jane's education, he knew, 
was defective : what happiness if one day he could 
help in its extension I On that thought he dwelt for 
many an hour, and saw Jane listening and trying 
to understand ; understanding and giving him proof 
of it ; working and striving till even Mr. Atherton 
should know why he chose her. The sea had been a 
delight to him, and every yard of the way had pos- 
sessed a charm for him. He caught up a word or two 
of French, and surprised Mr. Atherton by giving to 
the sounds a close imitation of their actual value. 

Michael deprecated any unusual aptitude. He had 
the ear of a parrot, that was all. 

" You shall read French before I 've done with you," 
said Mr. Atherton. 

" You will unfit me for my station," Michael said, 
smiling. 



939 BLEKLENTARY JANE 

"I want to," said Mr. Atherton, smiling, too. 

Jane lurlced in the back of liis mind, Michael was 
sure, and he did not pursue the subject 

Later in the day Mr. Atherton recurred to it 

" It is not I who vill unfit you — or could unfit you 
for the station in which you were bom. Somehow 
you never belonged to it I think I knew that years 
ago when I tried you for the choir at Birmingham. 
I only want to help you into the one to which you 
really do belong. Hundreds of people go through 
their lives in exile. That must n't happen with you." 

After all, Michael thought, Jane need not read 
French — or could be taught It was the first time 
that it had occurred to him that he might regret 
his own advancement He dismissed the idea at 
once. 

The autumn and winter went by in the routine of 
work. Mr. Atherton added French to the subjects of 
his tuition, and found his pupil intelligent as he had 
expected. Daily Michael made progress in his studies, 
musical and general, and Mr. Atherton began to feel 
certain of the success of his systeui. Soon he was 
sure he might let his pupil go forth, for he would go 
proof against the meretricious charms of Jenny Tan- 
dem and her kind. 

So passed a year. 

Then came the spring, and even Manchester put 
forth leaves ; even Manchester birds nested ; and 
even in Manchester young men's fancies lightly 
turned to thoughts of love. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



933 



Yet through the spring Michael was steadfast, and 
summer drew near. 

Then came a day when starved Michael hungered 
for a glimpse of Jane and a touch of her hand, as men 
have hungered for bread. He woke with Jane in his 
mind and her hands at his heartstrings. He could 
not work. The singing of a lark maddened him ; the 
colour of a flower at his window set his pulses leap- 
ing. He threw down his boolcs and went out. Mr. 
Atherton, it chanced, was away. There was no one 
to soothe and to calm him ; no David to lull by his 
playing a trouble as of Saul. 

The weather was fair to ease souls. Its very fairness 
disturbed him. 

On such a day what was Jane doing in far 
London? What? What? What? On such a day 
what was she thinking and of whom ? His thoughts 
rushed towards her as his restless feet bore him 
along the crowded pavements. How like London 
were parts of this town — like, yet unlike. The people 
spoke a different tongue ; he fancied their type was 
somewhat different, too. The thronging traffic looked 
the same, and the hurry and the fret of life : the fret 
— that had got into his veins and the fever, too. 
Jane, Jane, where was she? what doing? of whom 
thinking? Jane, Jane, Jane. The word sprang to his 
very lips, and he murmured it under his breath, and 
thought of the night when she had told him that her 
name was not Jenny Tandem at all, but simple Jane 
Smith. They had talked of names then, he and she ; 



Jill 



M4 BLBMBNTARY JANE 

aad the, with the ingenuousneia that wu part of her, 
had praiaed his. Michael even remembered thebluih 
that had flowed to her cheeics (to ebb slowly thence) 
ai a sense of the personal nature of her comment 
came to her. Dear Jane . . . dear child . . . dear 
Jane, Jane, Jane . . . 

For what was he renouncing his chances ol happi- 
ness? Happiness lay for him Janewards. Did he not 
know it? Wisdom might have its semblance in Mr. 
Atherton's counsel, but, with the tugging at his heartj 
Michael saw widj clear vision that such wisdom 
masked folly. Wisdom and fuUy — the terms were 
interchangeable. What did he seek in his life if not 
happiness? What ask of it? Success? As a means. 
His very ambitions pointed to Jan*. Then, as if urgent 
thought of her conjured her image to rise up before 
hhn, from out of the void he was given a glimpse of 
her face. In abstraction he had allowed his feet to 
carry him whither they would. Where he went mat- 
tered little so long as he moved. His nerves de- 
manded motion of him, and he walked quickly, 
heeding no longer the crowd, but absorbed in his 
thoughts. Jane looked at him suddenly. Whence? 
For a moment he knew not, his heart standing still, 
and for a space of time minuter still, unmeasured, 
and perhaps unmeasurable, he believed that his im- 
agination had played him a trick. Then he was sure 
that he had seen her face. He retraced his steps, and 
found Jane's photograph in a shop window. 

He pressed near. Other people were looking in. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



aas 



too, attracted not by any Hpedal photograph, but by 
the sight of faces that for one reason or another were 
deemed interesting enough to the public to warrant 
their display. Bishops were here, and royalties, states- 
men, and the lights of the stage. Jane's photograph 
stood in a row with several of each. Underneath it 
was written in pencil the name by which she was 
known at the music-halls. 

Jane was for sale with the rest. One-and-sizpence 
would buy her. 



CHAPTER XXIII 



h\ 



Michael went into the shop. EJccitement flushed 
his cheeks, and, though it was improbable that the 
young woman who came forward to serve him saw 
in him anything more unustud tlian a young man 
buying the picture of an actress, excitement in a 
measure affected his manner. He could scarcely see 
the photogfraphs when they were spread out before 
him. There were three "positions" of Jane in all. 
The young woman thought she had a fourth, but 
found she had sold it. 

"They only came down last week. They're quite 
new, and I 've sold about a dozen of them already. 
A gendeman bought two of her this morning, — he 
had the one in the hat that I was telling you about, 
I 'm nearly sure — and another gendeman bought 
three the same as these yesterday." 

" The same as these," said Michael mechanically. 

That Jane's photograph should be for sale spoke 
to her progress ; that there should be a run upon it 
raised a storm of thoughts and fears that Michael 
had lulled to rest What had he been dreaming all 
this time ? And dreaming was the word for his inac- 
tion, for to dream implied to sleep. He must have 
been sleeping. The young woman was speaking 
again. He looked at her dully and thence to objects 
in the shop: opera-glasses, barometers, telescopes, 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



227 



cameras, mathematical instruments in cases, and pho- 
tographs. There were spectacles, too, of divers kinds, 
and many shining things. 

Presently Michael pulled himself together suffi- 
ciently to hear what the attendant was saying. They 
had a large assortment of celebrities, she was telling 
him, and would he perhaps care for any of these? — 
the Prime Minister, they sold a great many of him, 
or Mr. Gladstone? 

No, Michael only wanted the three he had picked 

out 

She put them together into a large envelope. 
Should she send them? But he thanked her and 
preferred to take them. As if he could spare them 
for an hour I He was impatient to be at home and 
alone with them. 

" We shall be having some more in a day or two, 
and if you are passing, perhaps you would step in 
and see them, sir." 

"Others, you mean?" 

" The same lady, sir, but different ones, very likely. 
There are probably some more published." 

"There is, anyway, the one you spoke of . . .?" 

"To be sure, the one in the hat. Shall I get it for 
you? It would be here by Wednesday morning." 

Michael ordered it at once, and, having given di- 
rections as to the sending of it and paid for his pur- 
chases, he left the shop. 

His brain was still whiriing. Across nearly two 
hundred miles Jane had called to him. He looked at 



aaS 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



li ii 
ll 11 



' I 



the precious parcel he held, and longed to open it, 
yet would not till he should be safely in his own 
room. How strange it was — yet not strange at all. 
What more natural than that her success and her 
prettiness should have induced photographers to pub- 
lish her likeness? He might have expected it and 
looked out for it Oh, he was glad at this tangible 
proof of her advance. He knew how ardently she had 
wished to get on. 

He hurried homewards like a child with a toy. 
But, like a wave that has receded and gathered force, 
there broke over him the fear that a few minutes since 
had overwhelmed him in the shop. What if by wait- 
ing he had, indeed, lost Jane ? If here in Manchester, 
where she was not known, there were two or even 
three people besides himself who admired her sufli- 
dently to want a likeness of her, was it to be sup- 
posed that there were not dozens in London who 
would have need not of a photograph only but of 
Jane herself? Hundreds had seen her nightly in these 
many months that he had spent away from her^ 
and to see Jane was surely to love her. Were others 
different from himself? He winced at the thought. 
Fool that he was and blind I What to do? He reached 
his room and shut the door. 

With fingers that trembled he opened the envelope 
and took out the three shiny cards. Jane looked up 
at him from each. He spread them before him and 
drank them in with his eyes, gazing intently into the 
eyes of each one as if to force recognition from them. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 939 

No, she was not changed. He sought with dread for 
any expression of less clean a soul and did not find 
it Jane had still the eyes and the mouth of a child. 
Now Michael would take up one photograph, now 
another. The likeness in all of them was admirable. 
The one which had caught his eye as he passed the 
shop window was of Jane in such a dress as she used 
to wear when she sang "The lane where the violets 
nestle." At first he believed it to be the identical.dress 
he remembered at the Camberwell Palace of Varie- 
ties, but a littie thinking soon told him that this was 
of costlier make and material. Jane, of course, now 
could spend more on her wardrobe, and did so, he 
doubted not A littie lizard brooch appeared in the 
photograph, and set him wondering. It was in a sec- 
ond photograph also, but not in the third, which was 
of Jane in a simple white dress, and pleased him best 
of the three^ 

S» long he held this one that almost he believed 
the lips smiled at him. He murmured endearments 
under his breath. 

" How I love you and want you," he whispered. 
" How I think of you and wish for you." 

Then: "What have you thought all this time? 
Could you trust me ? You might till I die or you die. 
If you died, I should want to die, too. Jane —Jane — 
Jane." 

Presentiy : "And I 'm coming, I 'm coming. Wait 
for me, Jane. Wait for me, Jane, a littie while longer." 
He held the photograph then to his lips and pressed 



I 



asp 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



them again and again to the face. Mr. Atherton's 
scheme liad not worked. Michael loved Jane as ever. 
His mind was made up. 

Still, he would do nothing till Mr. Atherton came 
back. He would not even write. Surely having waited 
for nearly a year and a half, he could wait for a couple 
more days. His hand ached to write — to tell Jane he 
was coming. Two days, two days, that was all. Mr, 
Atherton even would not wish to keep him from 
Jane when he saw how it was with him. Of so much 
could Michael be sure, knowing as he did the good- 
ness of his master. The period, moreover, which had 
been suggested for his waiting was nearly up. Mr. 
Atherton did not wish to coerce him, and would be 
satisfied that his affections had stood the test of 
time. 

But time dragged. Never had two days held so 
many hours. It was as if the chafing of the months of 
steadfast purpose had been cumulative or was noT" 
taking vengeance upon him for such repression as 
he had imposed upon it. Impatience gapped him, 
lashed him, scourged him. Fear held him, too, at in- 
tervals. But there were moments of hope. From one 
of these he was thrown into despondency by a line 
from Mr. Atherton saying that he expected to be de- 
layed another day over the business which had called 
him away. Comfort came to him presently in the 
shape of the photograph of Jane which arrived the 
same morning. 

He released it from its wrappings and found her 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



231 



once more as he knew her — childish, innocent, and 
pretty enough to distract him. She wore a very simple 
dress — of linen, he guessed, with a broad white band 
round her slender waist. He spent twenty minutes 
looking at her counterfeit presentment, and extract- 
ing therefrom such emotions as the sight of it afforded 
him. Then, becoming aware of the hour by the strik- 
ing of a clock, he put the photograph upon his man- 
telpiece (a wish to see it again the moment he came 
in prompting him), and left his room to go to a prac- 
tice which was held on this particular morning, and 
which it was his duty to attend. His thoughts for 
once wandered. He regretted that he had not locked 
up the new likeness of Jane with the others. He would 
not wish it to be seen by irreverent eyes. He knew 
the comments such things evoked. The picture of an 
"actress" was held fair game. He could not bear 
that Jane's name should be profaned by thoughtless 
lips. Then he remembered that no name was upon it ; 
nor was any one likely to go to his room. 

The practice over, Michael would fain have gone 
back. But Mr. Atherton's letter had contained some 
instructions upon a matter in which he wished his 
pupil to act for him, and it was late in the afternoon 
before Michael found himself crossing his threshold. 
He went in with his eyes directed towards the mantel- 
piece, but he saw at once that the room was not 
empty. 

Mr. Atherton rose from a seat by the window. 
After all, he had reached home an hour ago. 



aja 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



" I 'm glad," said Michael, when he had greeted 
him, " I wanted to see you." 

He asked then after Mr. Atherton's health and of 
his visit to Liverpool. It was plain the while that he 
had something in or on his mind, and Mr. Atherton 
waited for him to speak. But Michael had difficulty 
in beginning. 

Partly to g^ve him time, partly to help him, Mr. 
Atherton got up and went to the mantelpiece. He 
bent down and looked at Jane's photograph. 

" Not any one I know ? " he said. 

" You have heard of her." 

Mr. Atherton searched his face. 

" That is Jane Smith," Michael said. 

There was a pause and then Mr. Atherton's " Tell 
me," brought Michael to his side. 

"I'm going to disappoint you," Michael said, 
"but I can't help it It's stronger than I am — 
stronger than anything else I know about. I've 
waited, but I can't wait any longer. If you knew — 
and if you knew her! I wanted to please you — 
you 've done everything for me. What should I be 
but for you ? I wanted to give your advice a fair trial. 
I know the wisdom of what you told me, but I was 
sui<: of m}rself all through, and now somehow I 
dare n't wait any longer. I was sure of myself, but I 
must make sure of her. The time I set myself to wait 
is nearly up, but since I have seen this " (he touched 
the photograph), " I can't finish it out If I lost her 
... I believe she cared for me when I went away, and 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



933 



you don't know what she is to me. It 's my life, Mr. 
Atheiton. Think . . . but oh, believe that I 'm not 
ungrateful." 

" Why have n't you spoken before? " Mr. Atherton 
said slowly. 

" I thought I could wait. I could have waited but 
for this." 

He touched the photograph again. 

"She sent it to you?" 

" No, I came across it by chance in a shop — not 
this one which only came this morning, but another 
— three others, which I got two days ago. i. '11 show 
them to you." 

He unlocked a drawer and took thence the envel- 
ope that contained diem. He was silent, his face 
wearing somewhat a heightened colour as Mr. Ather- 
ton examined them. Something akin to anxiety was 
in his expression, yet mingled with indications of 
other emotions. Chagrin was one of these, hope at 
the root of a second, steadfostness to his purpose 
(come what would) at that of a third compounded of 
the other two. 

Mr. Atherton raised his eyes at last, and spoke out 
of the silence in which Michael had thought to hear 
the beatin-j of his own heart : — 

" And this is Miss Jenny Tandem ? " he said. 

Michael nodded. 

" Properly that one and this are Jane Smith," he 
said in tones as steady as he could muster or mas- 
ter. He picked out the two of Jane in private 



334 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



dress. " The other two in costume are Miss Tan- 
dem." 

He paused and added, " I liave never thought the 
name suited her." 

"It doesn't," ''aid Mr. Atherton. "One could 
hardly imagine anything more — misleading." 

He fell into thought 

"... If it is not these that are misleading," he said, 
half to himself. 

"These?" 

" The photographs." 

"They are very like her." 

" Then the name is misleading — that and tht. cir- 
cumstances it was my lot to associate with her." 

Silence fell again between them. Mr. Atherton 
moved back to the hearth. He rested his elbow now 
on the mantelpiece and looked down into the grate, 
where a couple of ferns banked up by moss took the 
(dace of a fire. The photographs lay on a table dose 
by. 

" What do you want to do?" he said, at length. 

" To go up to London and see her. To find out if 
there is any hope for me. If there isn't . . ." He 
paused, and Mr. Atherton waved that contingency 
aside. It need not be faced in hypothesis. 

"If there is?" he said. 

" I can wait as long as need be. I could not marry 
yet anyway, but I must know whether I am to look 
to having her or not I can't work, I can do nothing till 
I know. I 'm not speaking without having thought" 



ELEMENTARY JANE 035 

"You needn't assure me of that, Michael. I have 
the proof of your fourteen — fifteen, is it ? — months 
of waiting. My advice, such as it was, has been 
granted a fair trial. I wanted you to look about you 
before you committed yourself to any one. You 've 
looked about, or you have had an opportunity of 
doing so, and you 've been constant to the conviction 
you brought with you. I 've nothing to say against 
your going. On the contrary, I bid you go, and my 
heartiest good wishes go with you." 

Michael knew not what to reply. He could only 
say that he had expected the permission to go, but 
that Mr. Atherton's kindness overcame him. 

" I could almost say now that I would wait out the 
eighteen months." 

" My dear boy, to what end ? It is your happiness 
that I had in view— or, at least, U there was any- 
thing selfish in my wish, 1 can say with truth that I 
believed your happiness and my inclinations with 
regard to it lay in the same direction. I was wrong, 
I own it frankly, and God forbid that I should stand 
in your light Perhaps love is the one thing that 
matters. I would not have you miss it for all that 
ambition could give. It is as if a man should gain 
the whole world and lose his own soul. You have 
found out what love is. Maybe in my time I have 
known, too." 

Mr. Atherton's eyes were shadowed by memories 
or thoughts. Michael, looking at him, saw him as he 
believed he had not seen him before, or saw him, 






036 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



perhaps, for the first time as he was, and, seeing, 
wondered what life had dented him. He appeared 
at this moment lilte one who was seelcing for what he 
would never find, and yet who had learnt, in his search, 
resignation. Michael experienced a deep emotion. 

"I don't Icnow how to thanlc you," he said. "I 
wish I could make you know what your goodness 
has been to me, sir, and how I respect you and love 
yoa for it You must let me say that If I could show 
you . . . but I can't, and you must just believe it, sir. 
You do, don't you, Mr. Atherton ? You don't think 
me ungratehil. I could n't bear tiiat you should." 

" I haven't seen you every day for this past year 
and more without knowhtg you. You needn't fear. 
If I have any doubts they are on the score of the ex- 
pediency of the policy I have pursued in this matter. 
I have none of you. You must n't think that the debt 
is on your side wholly— or, indeed, at all I have 
had a greater pleasure in your companionship and, 
if you like, in your education than I can tell you. I 
was lonely enough sometimes before you came to 
me. If you are willing, we will cry quits." 

Michael shook his head. 

"I wish now," Mr. Atherton said presentiy, "that 
we had talked o re openly about this lady." He 
took up one of the photographs as he spoke. " All 
this time I have known nothing of her, and my 
speculations have led me astray, as speculations will, 
whether they be upon things human or divine. And 
this is like her 7" 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



»S7 



"Very like her — as like as a photograph could 
be. You get no idea of her colouring, sir. Her eyes 
are blue. I have never seen bluer eyes. It 'a like look- 
ing into the sky or the sea." 

Mr. Atherton smiled. Midiael's tongue was loos- 
ened. 

All that evening the two men talked of Jane. Mr. 
Atherton heard of her gentleness, her timidity, her 
innocence. Michael told of her first appearance — 
how even then she had thrown her unconscious spell 
over him — told of his subsequent meeting with her, 
of the scene by the hoardings, and again of the cir- 
cumstances which, had led to his dismissal, and which, 
though they were known to Mr. Atherton, were now 
seen by him in the new light of his corrected concep- 
tion of Jane. He told of h;s visit to Greenwich Park, 
of his depression and his hope (Jane was motive in 
each) ; of the remorsehjl lii^e letter that came from 
her the next day. But Mr. Atherton had seen this 
already. No matter, he wcild like to see it again. 
Michael produced it Mr. Atherton read it with 
new eyes. It seemed such a small thing now that 
" grieved" had been spelt with an f and an a. Jane's 
eyes looked at Mr. Atherton reproachfully from the 
photographs, yet forgave him, he believed. Then 
Michael told of the parting. 

" She said I should change," he said, " said that 
it would be I and not she that would change, and I 
told her that nothing would change me, and I went 
away . . . and I only wrote once." 



•3a 



BLIMBNTARY JANS 



He broke ofi. Hia silence wu heinotu. 

"What can she think of me?" he saM to himseli, 
but did not ffive utterance to the thought aloud, lest 
he should seem to blame Mr. Atherton. 

On his part Mr. Atherton was saying inwardly, 
" And this is the girl I This is the blatant Jenny Tan- 
dem I This the common Jane Smith I " 

Thoughts that were disquieting lay behind these. 
What if, indeed, Michael had lost her 7 What ii his 
own scheme had succeeded too well ? That the ob- 
noxious Miss Tandem would marry had not been a 
hope absent from his mind. Out of sight, he had 
told himself, would be out of mind with Jenny and 
her class. He knew the type he had supposed her to 
represent But Jane, he believed, did not belong to.it 
Then woe to him who had been ready to jump to 
conclusions. He had forfeited, perhaps, by his med- 
dling the good-will of Michael forever. 

His whole wish now was that Michael should 
achieve his purpose. Jane would be found to have 
waited, he said to Michael and to himself. The con- 
stancy of good women was instinctive He said that 
to himself so often that it is open to doubt whether 
the statement carried with it any real conviction. 

Michael was to go up to London the following day. 
Mr. Atherton, parting with him for the night, promised 
to see him of! in the morning. 

" You can find her at once in London 7 " he asked 
the last thing before he went back to his room. 

Michael said that he knew her address. 



BLKMBNTARY JANB 



•39 



"Or rather," he uid, "I know where she is sing- 
ing. I have her private addrera, but she may Itave 
moved to another. I sliall find her, all right I have 
known almost exactly where she has been singing 
ever since I came here." 

" I wish we had spoken of her." 

"I wish we had." 

" Or that I had seen those." 

He indicated the photographs. 

" You imagined her different ? " 

"Verydifierent" 

"How?" 

"Verydifierent Totally. Almost of another day. 
Things misled me — the name, her profession." 

" She is in the last, not ^it How did you account 
for -for my . . .?" 

" I thought she had got round you." 

" If you knew her I " 

" I must know her. I shall want to. Good-night, 
Michael. Sleep well. It 's not long till to-morrow." 

" To-morrow, to-morrow I " Michael said under his 
breath. " To-morrow, to-morrow I " 

He turned back from the door. 

An hour later Mr. Atherton was still awake — two 
hours, three. 

" If by my interposing I have put them apart ... I" 
was the burden of the thought that would not let him 
rest. He tossed this way and that, and cursed him- 
self for taking upon him the prerogative of Pro- 
vidence. Meddling was the word for his action — 



040 



ELEMENTARY JANS 



meddling or interference I To harry him further a pro- 
verb sprang to his mind and buzzed there lilce an im- 
prisoned bee. "Of litde meddling," it insisted — "of 
litde meddling — little meddling comes great ease." 
It seemed to have been framed to disconcert him. " I 
never was a meddler," he protested in self-defence — 
nor of his temperament was he. Live and let live had 
been his maxim consistendy, but he had hoped to 
help Michael to live. 

"Will he liate me?" he asked before morning. 

But Michael did not look like hating him when 
they met some few hours later. They stood on the 
platform together. Michael's small portmanteau held 
things for the inside of a week. 

"Don't hurry back," Mr. Atherton said to him; 
" stay as long as you want to, aud I will arrange for 
you here." 

Michael thanked him. 

" Two days or three," he said — " four at the most, 
will be all I shall want, and less if fate is against me. 
But I 'm not going to think that" 

" Wise man ; go with hope in your heart Remem- 
ber, the gods like a cheerful lover, and above all a 
lover who won't be denied. Despond and they shy at 
you." 

Michael nodded and smiled. His smile was always 
illuminating to his somewhat grave face. Mr. Ather- 
ton noted it then. 

" Smile at her, Michael, like that, and she won't 
have the heart to refuse you." 



ELEMENTARY JANE 341 

Whereat Michael's smile broadened into a laugh 
that displayed his white teeth, but he said, " If she 's 
free I If she 's free I For a year is a long time and a 
year and a quarter is longer." 

A guard told btending passengers to take thefr 
seats. 

Michael jumped into the train, where his stick kept 
a place for him and leant out of the window. 

"Michael, if wishes and prayers avail anything, 
mine are with you. God bless you and give you your 
desire. You '11 have it, I believe and I trust But . . . 
if anything should baulk you . . . think as kindly of 
me as you can." 

Michael wnmg his hand. 



! ! ! f 






J : 8 



If 



CHAPTER XXIV 

On his airival at Euston, Michael drove straight to 
a little hotel in Covent Garden, the name of which 
Mr. Atherton had given him. Here he engaged a 
room and unptacked his bag. Cold water and a gen- 
erous brushing soon removed the dust of travel from 
him, and thon it only remained to him to make up 
hb mind as to what course he should pursue. He 
had eaten nothing upon his journey, and Nature sug- 
gested a quest of food as a preliminary step. 

He went down to the coflee-room and ordered a 
light meal. While it was being prepared, he set him- 
self to determine how and when he should make his 
presence known to Jane. He had had ample time, it 
may be thought, to make his plans during the jour- 
ney ; but he had not done so, unable to come to any 
decision regarding them, and he found himself in 
London now without a mind made up. His first in- 
clination had been to go directly to Litde Petwell 
Street, but the thought that in all probability she had 
quitted her lodg^ngfs there, and the knowledge (based 
upon an understanding of his own temp)erament) that 
a check at this point would inevitably assume the 
gravity of a portent for him, deterred him from setting 
out for South London. He would wait till the even- 
ing, and go to the Oxford where she was singing at 
this time. There were a few hours to get through in 






ELEMENTARY JANE 



"43 



the mean while. He considered how he shotild dis- 
pose of them. A thought of Mrs. Sands and a strong 
wish to see her again led him to ask for a South 
Eastern timetable. He found that he should be able 
to accomplish a visit to New Cross, with an hour or 
so to spare on his return ; and a rising fever in his 
blood precluding the possibility of physical inaction, 
he jumped up and made for Charing Cross. 

To-morrow — yesterday's to-morrow was to-day. 
The same town held Jane and himself. At any mo- 
ment he might meet her. His eyes scanned the faces 
of people in the streets. He peered into cabs and car- 
riages. The hair of a girl in a hansom might have 
been the hair of Jane. The glimpse of it was momen- 
tary. Perhaps Jane had passed him. He wondered 
whom he should see that he knew ; you alwa3rs met 
some one in London. 

He reached the station and took his ticket. The 
platform held many persons, and Michael walked 
amongst them as one in a dream. Was he, indeed, 
in London? He felt as if it might happen that he 
should wake presently to find himself in his little 
room at Manchester, with only the recollection of a 
dream to account for his present impressions. Then 
might the events of the last few days have been 
dreamt also I He touched his breast-pocket and felt 
there the stiff card-board that was the mounting of 
Jane's photograph. He had not dreamt that, and he 
smiled to himself ; and a girl on the platform lost her 
heart to him. When the train came in, she took her 



liffl 



■44 ELEMENTARY JANE 

seat in the same compartment with him. She de- 
voured his face with her eyes, and wondered about 
him, and wove penny novelettes around him (poor 
little unknown shop-girl with the hungry heart I), 
and she blushed when he met her gaze by chance, 
and looked down and g^ew pale, and Michael was 
not even conscious of her presence. She got out at 
Cannon Street, and Michael never knew that love 
had been offered him. Thus had love been offered to 
him before, more than once, and he had not susfiected 
it He wanted no love but the love of Jane. 

The train moved back out of Cannon Street, and 
loitered to London Bridge. In a pause between that 
and Spa Road, Bermondsey, scraps of conversation in 
other compartments of the third-class carriage in 
which he was sitting were audible to him. He found 
himself listening to the voice of a woman : — 

" I should 'a' liked a white satin meself," said the 
voice, "rind a bit of tewle and orange blossoms, same 
as you 'ad when you married Jow, but the wedding 
was very quiet, and she wore her gowin' away dress 
as I said, and she looked a perfect picture. I 'm sure, 
as I stood by them rails, I thought to meself I 'd 
never seen a prettier couple — but what a pair of 
children, when you come to think I " 

" They are young," said another voice, " but I 
don't 'old with long engagements." 

"1 declare they looked a perfect boy and girl," 
paisued the first speaker. " Of course he 's older than 
what he looks, but, upon me word, he don't appear 



i!'' 



! i; 



ELEMENTARY JANE 045 

a day more than seventeen, and 'er about the same. 
Well, she deserves to be 'appy, and I 'm sure I 'ope 
she will be, for 'e 's got a treasure if ever there was 
one. Talk about angels I It was a pity you could n't 
come." 

" Yes, I was vexed," agreed the other, "but 'Arry 
was so fev'rish I made sure he was going to be ill, 
and I did n't dare to leave 'im. Your 'ead don't ache 
now, my precious, does it ? 'E 's below par the doctor 
sa)rs, that 's what it is. 'E 'U soon be 'imself again, 
won't-cher, dear ? when you 've had the nice meddy- 
dne." 

The train began to move. Michael heard no more, 
and at Spa Road there was a general exodus. New 
Cross would be the next station. Michael's restless- 
ness was increasing unaccountably. He was alone 
now in the compartment in which he was travelling, 
and he went from one window to the other. The view 
fa-om each was ^miliar to him. Nothing seemed 
changed. Jane would not be changed . . . 

Almost his journey to New Cross might have been 
in search of her, so full of nervous apprehension was 
he as he approached his destination. Once Jane had 
travelled hither also. She had not found him. Would 
he not surely find Mrs. Sands? He wanted to shake 
her hand ; to hear news of Sands and the children ; to 
show that he was not changed. No one must be 
changed. No one would be changed — surely, surely. 

He alighted and left the station. He hurried in the 
direction of his old lodgings. His nervousness was 



346 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



not to be explained. He had done wisely, he told him- 
self with sarcasm, not to go to Little Petwell Street 
A change of aspect there would have sent his heart 
into his boots. He knew himself well, and the know- 
ledge gave him litde satisfaction just then. Still he 
wronged himself, for he was stronger than he sup- 
posed. But he was not to know that yet 

The music-shop where he used to give his lessons 
at the meagre shilling an hour lay close by. For some 
reason or other he had less sentiment in connection 
therewith than with the house where he had lodged, 
but he turned into a street that would take him past 
it, meaning to look in for a moment 

He found it gone. A grocer's shop replaced it An 
inquiry elicited the information that the music- 
seller had retired six months back. 

"Six months," said Michael, and looked about 
him. " You 've altered the place a good deal. I should 
not have known it" 

" We 've enlarged and improved it, sir, I think — 
and a fine lot of money it ran into. The taxes, sir, on 
one's own improvements I venture to think an impo- 
sition. A man makes an ouday at considerable ex- 
pense and raises the value of the property at his own 
private cost — is it fair, I ask you, that he should be 
called upon to — " 

" Mr. Cheston has retired 7 " Michael said absently. 

" Six months ago." 

" You 've been very quick — " 

He looked about him again. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 947 

" Quick, sir I Tlie dilatoriness of buUdera ia a sub- 
ject upon wliich I have a word or two to say. Is it 
just, I would ask you, that one should be kept out of 
a house for weeks over the time estimated for com- 
pletion and occupation ? A strike of the brick-layers I 
Why don't the employers band together more than 
they do. I speak, I may say, as an employer myself 
and I would ask you — " 

Michael took leave of a politician. 

Mr. Cheston gone, the shop altered out of all re- 
cognition I Well, six months was a long time, and 
fifteen was longer. Much might happen in as many 
weeks or days or hours. 

He had not proceeded many steps when he heard 
the grocer calling after him. For a moment (no name 
being used, but only ' Heigh I ') he did not realize 
that he was being addressed, and he walked on in 
his abstraction. 

"Heighiyou, sirl" 

"Me?" 

"One half-second, sir." 

The man came a few yards down the road. 
Michael returned his steps to meet him. 

" In case you are a friend of Mr. Cheston's, sir, you 
may like to know (or may know it) and I forgot to 
tell you — that he is married, sir." 

"Married?" 

The old music-shop keeper I It was surprising. 

" Yes, sir — a widow of some years, but well-look- 
ing, they say, and with a pretty little bit of money. 



I 



ij. 






348 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



if what I hear ia true. She was the widow of a 
wealthy coal-merchant (I used to thinlc of coal my- 
self before I settled on dry goods, and sometimes re- 
gret it), and the gossip is that she was an old flame 
of Mr. Cheston whom I succeeded, sir, but have not 
the pleasure of knowing; and, anyway, her fortune 
enabled the worthy gentleman to retire into private 
life. That is all, sir. It slipped my memory at the 
time, but I thought you might like to know." 

Michael said he was much obliged, and his inform- 
ant made him welcome of the news, and they parted 
once more. 

The house in which he had lodged was unchanged, 
at all events. So much he decided as he came in 
sight of it The hall door was still green, and there 
were flowers in the parlour window. A card an- 
nounced a room for a single gentleman — his old 
room, perhaps. 

Michael rang. Some one was singing hard-by. 
The voice ceased, and a footfall announced the ap- 
proach of the owner of it Micliael experienced a 
thrill of apprehension as he heard the latch click. 

He was reassured the next mom sat by a voice he 
knew. 

" Why, if it is n't Mr. Seaward I Where do you 
spring from, sir? Come in." 

Michael shook her hand. It was cool and soft from 
the washtub. 

" A little bit of rinsing as I wanted to get done," 
she explained in parenthesis. "And how are' you, 



ELEMENTARY JANE 949 

sir? But there, I need n't ask, or else your looks belie 
you. Well, I am g^lad to see you j and have you come 
back to me? There 's your little room upstairs. I de- 
clare, it's providential. The young man only went 
out of it day before yesterday." 

Michael said that he had not come to stay. He 
was in town for a few days only. 

He noted crape on her dress as he spoke. 

" Come up to-day and come straight to see me," 
she said, with her face beaming ; " well, that is kind 
and friendly of you, to be sure. There aren't many 
lodgers like you, sir, and many and many 's the time 
I 've said I wished I had you back. Never a grumble 
nor a bit of trouble. It was alwa3rs a pleasure to do 
for you. And how long is it since you went? Qose 
on eighteen months, is n't it?" 

"Fifteen," said Michael. 

" Ah, fifteen ; well, that 's a goodish time, toa" 

"It is— a long time." 

" There's room for a thing or two to happen in 
fifteen months," she said. Her eye met Michael's 
travelling from the crape upon her body, and she 
sighed. He wanted to ask after the children, but 
feared one of them might be dead. Well, it was 
better to ask. 

"They're all right, sir, thank you. Amy you'd 
find grown, I think. She shoots up like a cabbage, 
that child does. She favours her mother's family, for 
we was all tall at home. I had some bother with 
Charley's eyes in the winter. I've had to get him 



i * 



•so BLBMINTARY JAMB 

glasMB. It 's school does it, but you can't keep him 
from boolcs, he 's such a one for reading. He always 
was a bright little fellow, and his teacher says I shall 
have reason to be proud of him one of these days. 
He looks a little caution in his spectacles. But he 's 
that proud of 'em, you wouldn't believe, and the 
doctor says he won't hurt much if he wears 'em 
when he's at his lessons. They're both out now, or 
else I should 'a' liked you to see them. They've 
gone up to tea at the Rectory, where there 's a treat 
to-day for the Sunday School. And here's baby." 

She showed a fine litde child asleep in a cradle. 

" He was in arms when you were here, but he runs 
about now, and he 's beginning to say a word or two. 
He's getting too big for the cradle by rights." 

The children were well, then. 

" And how have things been going with you, Mr. 
Seaward?" 

Michael told her something of his life and his for- 
tunes. 

" And no worry now, sir, about keeping in work ? " 

Michael shook his head, smiling. 

"I have work all the time." 

" It don't make you a dull boy, sir, then. You look 
better than you used." 

" It is n't all work," said Michael, smiling again. 

" Yet there 's something about you, sir ... I don't 
know what . . . sort of anxious, sir." 

Was he so transparent? Did the restlessness en- 
gendered by his suspense show so clearly ?_Restless- 



■LBMBNTARY JANE ,5, 

> in ■ measure was at the root of his visit to New 
Cross. Mrs. Sands had keen perceptions. 

" Oh, we have all anxieties of one kind or anotiier." 
he sdd, " but mine are no longer what Uiey were." 
«.u .f.*" ^"^ °" sorrows," said Mis. Sands; 
that I know - none better. But you 're getting on. 
SU-, and that's good hearing. You don't ever wid^ 
yourself back here, 1 '11 lay." 

" I have wished it" 

" I'm sure / have. There 's your armchair upstain 
that you gave me. Come, you must see it, sir, and 
your httie room. And whatever am I tiiinking of that 
I have n t offered you a cup of tea ? The kettie 's on 
the boil now." 

Michael protested that he had had a meal before 
he started, but tile good woman would take no denial 
bhe fetched a teapot from a cupboard. 

" Go and look at your littie room, sir. I need n't 
tell you tiie way, and it '11 be ready against you come 
down. 

" I mustn't stop long, Mrs. Sands—" 
" Ten minutes, sir, and tiie tea '11 be ready in two " 
Michael went upstairs. The room was much as lie 
tad left It The wicker chair was in its accustomed 
place. The furniture was tiie same. He remembered 
the pattern of tiie wallpaper. There were littie pink 
J^ m ,t He was glad to see it again. He had 
oeen happy and unhappy in tiiis room, hopeful and 
aespondent It looked west, and sunlight poured into 
It now. 



,„ ILEMINTARY JANB 

» . » k. Mt u ii he had never left It Mincherter 

S^TdoJ^^d^ntdowntotheparkjur 
" Nothing changed." he said. smUing. 
XS:'felCa^J^t upon the wall, in front oj 
w™ It iw ai entogement ol a photograph, such 

rare'dre VLr^iTwSa^^ssrs'is 

and burst into tears. 
^SS^LS^fdidTrw. So.ething.sha. 

pened Forgive «-• ^^.f ^j'*^,7did n't know ho. 
" 1 know you did n t. «'• ^° ' ^^ „„ dress 

to tell you. I saw you look at the crape on my 
. . . Poor Sands is dead." 



■LBMBNTARY JANE a$i 

Eapnaakm of regret ud lympathy cvne from 
Michael's Upfc 

" I 've been waiting to tell you ever since you came 
and — and that's not all. I don't know vhat you'll 
think. There was the poor children. Y< m, h id n't b-*-n 
gone a fortnight It was very sudden ii.>was'. ti'l 
above a week. Oh, my poor WUlir, ;,. !f cm,,,. „pcn 
me like a shock. The best husbam.' :■ woman vtr 
had — never a hard word, and sv h a ,,'O'iJ i,-tji:t 
You remember the pride he tock ai th,. .e children. 
He made an idol of baby, didn't he? Ant. h<: vus 
always thinking of some little pleasure f'^,, hem aU. 
The very week before he was taken ill he took 'em 
and me to the Crystal Palace for the day, and he car- 
ried baby most of the time himself because he was 
such a heavy child and he wouldn't have me tired. 
And when I think . . ." 

Michael tried to comfort her. He said that he did 
not think it was wholly loss to the living when those 
they loved were taken from them. She shook her 
head. Michael went over to the portrait and stood 
under it It was artless enough, as even he could tell, 
but it recalled the big, hearty man to him vividly. It 
was coloured, and colour had not been spared. The 
frame might be blatantly gilt, but Michael with dear 
eyes could see through what was tawdry. The out- 
ward form mattered little. 

" It only came home last week," said the young 
woman, drying her eyes and coming over to where 
he stood. " I only had a photo oi him, done just 



•S4 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



after we were married, and they said at the shop ft 
could be made into a portrait, so I had it done. It's 
just like him, is n't it ? I 've seen him look like that, 
times and times. He had just those blue eyes, and 
even when he was ill, he never got really pale. Such 
a strong man, and only thirty-two when he died. It 
was inflammation of the lungs. He got a chill one 
day at the works — ft was the Wednesday, and I 
shall never forget when he came home. They sent a 
mate with him, he seemed so bad. He was hot and 
cold, shivering so as his teeth chattered, and then 
feverish enough to bum you. I sat up with him all 
that week and I never believed he wouldn't pull 
through. The doctor feared from the first, but I said 
to myself I would pull him through if God 'd let me. 
It's my one comfort now that I never left him day 
or night, and I 've need of comfort sometimes, I can 
tell you. You don't know yet . . ." 

Her eyes swam in tears. Michael was deeply 
moved. 
"A fortnight after I left," he said. 
She nodded. 

" He was only ill a week from first to last. He 
died in these arms. Do you believe I 'm sorry, sir?" 
He looked at her in surprise, half supposing he 
had not heard her aright She repeated her question. 
" Sorry ? " he said blankly. " Sony ? " 
"Yes. I told you, you didn't know everything. 
There were the children. What can a woman do ? " 
" I don't understand, Mrs. Sands." 



ELEMENTARY JANE as$ 

"That's it I'm not Mrs. Sands. I've married 
agam It was a mate of my WUliam's-the one who 

W^*;iTvT,^ •*'"• ^ '*'•'* ^^ ' «"'•<* "ever love 
him hke WJlmm. He was «.t on it. and it meant 
keeping on the house, which I wasn't sure I could 
ever ds. And he knows how it is and wanted me all 
the same. I 've been Mrs. Offis these three weeks " 



CHAPTER XXV 



It was with a feeling of bewilderment that Michael 
heard of Mrs. Sands's second marriage. He thought 
of her still as Mrs. Sands, and, all unconsciously, 
called her so when he said good-bye ; but he took 
a last look at the green-doored house as he reached 
the end of the street, and thought that its familiar 
aspect masked changes, after all — grave changes. 
The world does not stand still ; what had he expected ? 
Marriages and death were in the air. Mr. Cheston 
was married, Mrs. Sands widowed and married again, 
even the women to whose talk he had listened in the 
stop outside Bermondsey Station had been discussing 
a marriage. 

He remembered that suddenly, and the threefold 
thing grip]}ed him. He wrestled with it in the train. 
It loosened its hold reluctantly and left him shaken. 
When he reached Charing Cross, he hurried back to 
his hotel, where he changed his clothes and wrote a 
line to send in to Jane, when the time should come 
to apprise her of his presence. He put this in his 
pocket, and set himself to wait He could not eat. 
Perhaps Jane would sup with him. The thought braced 
him. She had liked him once . . . 

In the hour that remained before he could present 
himself at the music-hall he went through various 
phases of emotion. At one time he femcied Jane wait- 



ELEMENTARY JANE 957 

ing for him, at another indifferent to him, at another 
lost to him. In after years he looked back upon this 
hour with shrinking, and wished to forget it 

London was full. The season was in early swing, 
but Michael knew nothing of it The traffic was a 
little more congested, tiiat was all. He took his way 
to Oxford Street, and waited for the doors of the 
music-hall to open. Jane, he expected, would not ap- 
pear till halfway through the programme, but to-night 
nothing must be left to chance. While he waited, he 
read the posters that held Jane's name, and after he 
had satisfied himself that there was not a case of pho- 
tographs of her on which to delight his eyes, he went 
a few steps up the street to look at the stage door 
through which she must pass, and whence, later, she 
would, perhaps, come to greet him. He would be 
waiting as he waited now. His life was made up 
of waiting. It might be that all life was made up of 
waiting. Yet he could imagine supreme moments 
which should be the prize and the solace of years. 
Early or late they might come — or never. 

He watched the river of vehicles flowing by, and 
the narrower stream of the footpaths. Was there no 
rest where life was? Then happy the stones or the 
dead. Some one pushed passed him — a woman in 
a tattered shawl. She held pencils and once had held 
oranges ; he knew her directly. Before, she had her- 
alded ill-luck and luck— had brought him the tale 
of the rain when he was looking for moonlight or 
stars to walk under : he had been like then to lose 



1 ' 



«»58 



ELBMENTARY JANE 



sight of Jane, but had seen her in fine. This woman 
had blessed him. 

" Pencils," he said ; " matches sell better." 

" Nothing sells," said the woman. 

" It used to be oranges." 

" Once it was chestnuts." She did not recall him. 
" I 've been better off in my time, and it 's been chest- 
nuts 'fore now. But they sold up my can. So it's pen- 
cils or anythink else, and a fat lot of profit you git 
from 'em. They're two a penny. It's givin' away — 
fair presents, I call it. The po'r'd better not 'ave 
stomachs, I say, when there 's nothing to put in 'em." 

Michael held out sixpence. 

" I don't want the pencils." 

" Not a drop do I touch, sir," she said, " not a sip 
pass my lips, or I 'd drink your 'ealth like a lady. 
I've six po'r little children — penny a piece for 'em 
thb makes, and not empty to bed, thanks to you, for 
this night You '11 never want a sweetheart, sir, I can 
see in your eye ; and good luck to you, air, with the 
girls." 

She shuffled on, and made straight for the first 
public house. 

The doors of the music-hall were open by this 
time, and Michael moved in. He paid for a stall, and 
when he had bought a prog^ramme and seen Jane's 
name once more, he took his seat. He was a few 
rows from the front, and in a good place for seeing 
and hearing. He wondered whether Jane would see 
him, and did not know whether or not he wished it. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 959 

A few people strolled ia. The cheaper parts filled 
rapidly. The orchestra assembled, and the air became 
filled with the troubled sounds of tuning. There were 
wallings and lamentations and groanings as of souls 
in torment. Now and then through the tumult of 
noises rang out a jubilant cry as of one freed and 
escaping. Lethargy crept over Michael. Through it, 
as through mist, the confusion of notes reached his 
senses and stirred them. Melancholy and discord were 
dominant, complaint and protest were there. A 'cello 
growled its rage deeply. The sounds were for Michael 
the sob and the scream and plaint of the world in 
her labour. Life was symbolized, disorder prevailing. 
Then the conductor took his seat, and, lo, as at the 
word of a creator, oat of the chaos came order. The 
mnsdes of Michael relaxed. A feeling of peace pos- 
sessed hiat. He was bonie out of the stress and the 
buffet of seas into smooth waters. Something seemed 
achieved, and he might rest. A waltz of Strauss, 
dropped into the potpourri arranged for the over- 
ture, swung in tlw air. It appcoached in its swing- 
ing, receded and came back again with rhythm and 
predsenew — to meet on a sudden a blow in the face 
(drums and cymbals the fist) that sent it spinning. It 
clutched at what-not, and seemed dizzy, and tried to 
keep hold of itself, but lost consciousness. It fell and 
was shattered, becoming then, as it seemed, a thing 
0* glass or aplintering porcelain, the bits of which, 
littering for a moment, were swept up and straight- 
way danced off — a rioting tune of the moment The 



ate ELEMENTARY JANE 

gallery knew the air. Some one whistled it Every 
one upstairs whistled it. It rang shrilly round the 
roof. There was a rough-and-ready triumph in it, a 
vulgar jubilation, a merrymaking of crowds. The 
infection of it, however, was potent, and sensitive 
Michael tapped a foot to the measure of it. A bit of 
an opera, a sentimental song of the day, a galop, 
and a strident march brought the overture to an end, 
and the programme beg^an in earnest. 

People were assembling now. The stalls and the 
boxes alone were sparingly filled, but half an hour 
saw men and women taking their places in both. 
From the boxes women looked languidly into the 
body of the hall. Fans were waving here and there. 
Smoke began to show itself as a thin blue vapour, 
that was elusive when you looked at it, but apparent 
at other times. 

Michael with a throbbing heart watched each 
number as it was put up. Though he knew that Jane 
would not appear just yet, not a card was slipped 
out of its frame at the side of the stage that he did 
not hold his breath till he read its successor. He paid 
but intermittent attention to the performances. The 
early turns he knew to be experimentary in a esse or 
two, and he thought he saw promise in the ringing 
of a young girl. He was reminded vaguely oi" Jane's 
d^but (in which he had unconsciously helped her), 
and he applauded the beginner's effort partly for 
Jane's sake. 

Familiar faces began to appear. Here was Lilla of 



ELEMENTARY JANE a6i 

the Haardous Wire — a stouter Lilla than of yore. 
She went through her show complacently, the au- 
dience giving her her meed of applause, and dropped 
no knives. (We remember, or more probably forget, 
so long is it since we met her in Camberwell, that 
the attitude of the house affected her performance 
and her temper.) Here were Marie This and Lottie 
That, ladies of great popularity in Music-Hallia. 
Here was Apollo, the man of beauty and strength, 
and here the Sisters Tinker. 

A juggler did strange and wonderful things with 
ease and grace. His turn came to an end. Michael 
experienced a thrill from head to foot as he saw 
Jane's number slide into its place in the frame. 

It seemed to him that a rustle went round the 
house. There had been clapping before when the 
number of a favourite went up ; there was clapping 
now. Michael's hands hung loose in his lap. He 
wondered vaguely whether his emotion was apparent 
to those about him. 

The orchestra struck up the opening bars of a 
song. A few moments later Jane was before him. 

He leant forward in his seat. At last, at last . . . 

His gaze enveloped her— embraced her, kissed 
her lips and her hair and her eyes. Time stood still. 
The world held two people, Jane and himself. It was 
wonderful to see her again. The past months of sep- 
aration were swept away as clouds by the wind. 
Nothing now should keep them apart. Jane, do you 
hear him ? Nothing can part you. 



iillffi^ 



a6i ELEMENTARY JANE 

Then of a sudden Michael woke out of his trance. 
Applause had greeted her appearance. That was 
natural. Why did a voice from the gallery shout, 
"Good luck to you, Jenny!" and some in the house 
take up the cry 7 Why did Jane blush as she smiled, 
her sweet eyes shining? There was something sig- 
nificant in the leception accorded to her. He was 
sure of it Why? ?<U she was singing now, and 
sounds in the h j< -: subsided. Her song was of the 
twopenny ordei but it told of meadows and a cot- 
tage by a stream, of cows and milking, of the hum- 
ming of bees and the scents of the field, of the 
cool depths of a wood and the tinkle of sheep- 
bells, of the singing of birds and the sound of an 
aze. Jane breathed the spirit of the country as she 
sang. 

Even infatuated Michael could gauge the advance 
she had made since last he had heard her. Her voice 
was stronger, fuller, and more under her control. She 
was free of many little tricks which he had excused 
(even loved) for her sake. Her accent was improved, 
but not perfect. He loved its improvement and its 
imperfections. 

Applause followed her song. Michael felt for his 
note, and took it from his pocket. He had closed it, 
but he said the contents of it over to himseli 

" Dear Miss Smith," it ran, " I am in London 
for a few days. Will you see me? I shall wait at the 
stage door for an answer, or if I am fortunate, for 
you. Yours sincerely, Michael Seaward." 



ELEMENTARY JANE 063 

A postscript added, "I wonder whether you wiU 
remember me at all." 

The words were meagre, he thought, yet what else 
to say 7 He had spent many minutes choosing these. 
He decided that there was nothing else to say just 
then. She would see him, he was sure of that, and 
then all must be said upon which he was silent on 
paper. If she cared for him, if she had not forgotten 
him, if another had not replaced him, she would read 
even now what he had left out. He turned the en- 
velope this way ...d that, and replaced it in his 
pocket 

The brief interval was over, the orchestra playing 
once more. The gallery greeted the air with a laugh 
and a volley of banter. Michael did not distinguish 
what was said, but again he had the sense of being 
outeide an open secret. He was sure that he lacked 
knowledge that had been passed from one to another 
up there. The thought smote him with apprehension. 

Jane appeared. She had been in pink, and now 
wore white. He recognized the dress as that pre- 
sented in one of her photographs. Its whiteness laid 
stress upon her youth and guilelessness. 

She sang of a lover. 

"And I know [ran the words) I '11 be happy with him. 
For there aren't many boys lilce my little boy Jim." 

A voice shouted : " What have you done with him. 
Jenny?" ^ 

Another : " Look for him at the Empire." 



9«4 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



What did it mean? Michael's pulsea stood still. 
Jane took the interruption shyly but in good part 
She sang on. Every verse ended : — 

" I know and I know I '11 be happy with him, 
For there aren't many boy* like my little boy Jim." 

A storm of applause followed the song — stampings 
and clappings and whistlings. Michael had risen to 
his feet It was time now to send round his note. He 
would wait half a moment for Jane's bow. But it was 
not to be a bow only. The clappings and whistlings 
continued. Cries of " Encore " interspersed them, and 
after a brief delay the orchestra played again. Michael 
was transported to Camberwell, and fifteen months 
dropped from the tale of the days of his life : Jane 
was going to sing "The Lane where the Violets 
nestle." He remembered the day when across the 
footlights she had met his eyes . . . 

He came back to the present as he recognized little 
alterations in her manner of giving the familiar lines. 
The Lane had a firmer a in it and violets three sylla- 
bles. He could gauge the advance of Jane more ac- 
curately, now that the theme was known to him, than 
when she sang the new songs. Comparison, in other 
words, was fiossibla. He could have wished her per- 
formance unchanged. It alarmed him, like everything 
else that had happened since he set foot here in Lon- 
don. 

Now for the last time Jane had bowed, and Michael 
sprang up once more, and left the house. He hurried 



BLEMBNTARY JANB ag, 

to the stage door and lent in his note. Then he waited. 
The time seemed neither long nor short before the 
messenger told him Miss Tandem would see him. 

He moved a few steps from the doorway. Twilight 
had given place to night in the street Umps flashed 
on cabs and carriages. Michael heard the roar of the 
traffic as from a great distance. He did not look dl- 
recUy at the door, yet he was watching it A Imu^ra 
drew up, and a woman passed in with a plentiful 
flutter of skirts. A man came out, foUowed by an 
attendant with a box. The two made for a vehicle that 
was waiting. Michael recogni2ed the conjuror. The 
attendant went back. 

After him no one passed through either this way or 
that for five minutes. Then came Jane. He heard her 
voice before he saw her. She was telling the stage 
doorkeeper that she would send for her things in the 
morning. 



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I! 



CHAPTER XXVI 

She was soberly dressed in a coat and a skirt of some 
dark cloth that was rigidly plain, but laid stress upon 
the delicate tints of her complexion and the shining 
of her hair. Michael noted all that and the quick play 
of feeling upon her face. 

" Oh," she said, with hand extended, " I am glad 
to see you again." 

" Not half so glad as 1 am to stand talking to you 
face to face." 
" Perhaps I am, you can't tell." 
" If I could think it I " 
" Believe it. I am very, very glad." 
She met his eyes frankly, Michael searching hers. 
He found in them neither tremor nor reproach. Had 
she so schooled herself? Jane had always shown her 
emotions. She was glad to see him — very, very glad, 
she said. Why did the assurance pain him ? 

Yet it was plain to see that she was sincere. The 
pleasure the meeting with him afforded her was writ- 
ten in her heightened colour and her attitude. She 
still suffered him to retain her hand. 
" It's like old times," she said. 
" I want to think so," he said, releasing her hand 
reluctantly. 
Some embarrassment showed itself in her manner 



ELEMENTARY JANE 367 

then. Perhaps he had spoken fervently. A brief si- 
lence followed his speech. Jane broke it. 

" How long it seems. I was in my first engagement 
then, wasn't I? and you -I needn't ask how you 
are getting on." ' 

I u " •'f ' '^^"1^*^ ^ longtime. Yes. I am getting on. 
I have followed your career. How quickly you have 
succeeded. I was sure you would. I 've watched every 
step of your progress." 

Jane looked at him questioningiy. 

"Have you?" 

" Did n't you know that I should ? " 

•'Hhought you 'd be glad, p'r-aps. I was gettingon." 

" I was n't sure that you 'd hear I was " 
" I should hear all I could-you might have known 
that. 

Jane shook her head. 

" Because I did n't write ? " he said. 

She nodded. 

" If you knew ..." he said. 

" I thought you 'd forgotten. I was sure you had 
after a time 1" ^ 

"I said I should not forget." 

" But people do. I thought then that I had been 
mistaken. Why should you remember ? you 'd known 
''^a. very short time." 

Now Michael saw in her signs of the nervousness 
that her greeting had lacked. His soul leaped to hi3 
eyes. 




368 ELEMENTARY JANE 

"I've never forgotten," he said, "never stopped 
thinking of you. It was because I could wait no longer 
that I came up to London to-day. I had to see you. 
Oh, I 've so much to say to you. Where can we talk? 
Will you come to supper with me?" 

She was looking at him now as one amazed. 

" I can't stay," she said, scarcely above her breath 

" It 's not late." 

" It is n't that . . ." 

She broke of!. 

"What, then?" 

" I don't think I understand," she said, trymg to 
recover herself. " I can't have supper with you any- 
way. I 've got to meet some one . . ." 

Michael's heart seemed to stop beating. 

"There's something you don't know. I'm — I'm 
married. Didn't you hear the boys chaffing me? I 
was married yesterday." 

" I thought the occasion was special," Michael 
heard himself saying after a time. 

Jane looked relieved. 

" I would n't have sung 'My boy Jim ' — not under 
the circumstances, if I could have helped it. But it's 
my new song, and I was obliged to. You heard them 
say, 'Good luck, Jenny," didn't you? They're real 
friends if they Uke you." 

" And they all like you and you like them all? 
Jane looked at a watch on her wrist— a littie gold 
watch in a bangle, the present of Curley. For Michael 
its elegance marked the changes that fifteen months 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



269 



had wrought in Jane's fortunes and Jane. He scarcely 
felt the blow she had dealt him as yet. He was sur- 
prised at what he thought his fortitude. 

"I must go," she said, "or I shall" be late. You 
have n't wished me good luclc. Won't you?" 

"Yes, of course," he said mechanically, "I wish 
yov. good luck." 

" Thank you," she said. " It 's been nice to see you 
again. I 'm glad things are going well with you. 
You don't know how sorry I was — that time, you 
remember. I mustn't stop now, or I shall miss my 
husband. I'll take that hansom." 

He assisted her to get into it. Her manner was 
hurried now and apprehensive. She wished to beoF 
he would not detain her. There was nothing more to 
say, was there? 

He heard her wishing him good-bye, and he shook 
her hand. Then as he dosed the doors absenUy, she 
spoke to the driver through the trap. 
"The Empire," she said. 

She nodded and smiled and was gone. At the very 
last he fancied her smile faltered, and that she had 
grown very pale. Did she know ? What was the 
matter with him that his impressions were so hazy? 
Well, she was gone, and he had lost her forever. How 
quickly the traffic swallowed up the cab that held 
her . . . 

He stood in abstraction on the pavement. Desul- 
toriness possessed him. There seemed nothing par- 
ticular to do and nowhere to go. 



870 ELEMENTARY JANE 

A stranger said, " Hullo, Bertie I " 
And another, "Let 'Erbert alone. He's dreamin'. 
You'll wike'im." 

Then two people laughed shrilly. He moved out of 
their way. One of them, touched apparently by some- 
thing in his aspect, came back to say : — 

"I 'm sorry. I believe you 're in trouble. Don't you 
mind either of us. I know what it is, and I 'm sorry." 
She sped after her companion, leaving a memory 
of something kind and sad. 

Yes, he was in trouble. He had been given a blow 
that was staggering. Yet in a manner he felt that he 
had been prepared for it. His subconsciousness had 
had sense of the thing that had happened. The very 
events of the day had led up to some climax, and 
presaged calamity. 

Jane was married . . . married yesterday ... To 
whom? To whom? He had not asked— had asked 
no questions at all. Was he, indeed, asleep and dream- 
ing? A sense of inadequacy and incompleteness — 
of futility, even, characterized the interview in retro- 
spect. Had he talked with Jane at all ? He had hun- 
gered and had eaten dust. Dust seemed to be be- 
tween his teeth. Dust was his portion. 

He shook off his lethargy, and searched rapidly in 
his mind for some indication of the length of time it 
had held him. He could not be certain, but long as 
his stupor had seemed to last, it was probable that it 
had been but of a few minutes' duration. 
Jane, then, had but a short start of him. He re- 



ELEMENTARY JANE ,7, 

membered the direction she had given to the cabman: 
The Empire Somewhere else he had recently heard 
mention of the Empire. He recalled the voice from 
?rnf! '^'.^^ " '°^'^ •''" *^^' J*"« had married a 

rest - till he knew whom she had married. 

He hailed a cab. 

"Drive to Leicester Square," he said. "Put me 
down at the comer of Cranboume Street " 

He lay back pale and inert, but with his mind 
working mcessantly. He went again through his talk 
with Jane, stnv.ng to find out what had lain behind 

»r 7k /.^. *'*'* 'P°'''"- T'^^ '^°^^ he had sus- 
tained had dnveriall natural inquiries from his head. 
Jane must have remarked that he did not ask whom 
she had mamed. yet she had not told him. This 
bought became fraught with sinister meaning pre- 
sently. He recalled her impatience to be gone She 
had not volunteered her husband's name ... Had 
she feared he would ask it? A misgiving that he 
scarcely dared to admit caused him to lean forward. 
Quicker! Quicker! Oh. slow horee and congested 
streets ! He must know the worst 
••But not that one." he said under his breath, 
jane. Jane, for your own sake . . ." 
The hansom turned into Leicester Square. The 
ights of the Alhambra made one side of it brilliant, 
those of the Empire another. Michael alighted, and 
came face to face with the knowledge he sought- 
Jane and Curiey were walking together. They had 




1 



sja ELEMENTARY JANE 

eyes but for each other, and he could have touched 
Jane's sleeve as she passed him. So near, indeed, 
wa> she to him tb-^t he heard a few words of her talk. 
He ftught his own name. Jane was telling her hus- 
band. . . 

Michael stepped back, trembling. 
He saw the direction of their steps. They were 
going to sup at the Cavour, perhaps. He was right. 
He saw them go in. 

He looked this way and that. London stifled him. 
Now, as he stood still, the neighbouring Empire 
threw open her doors and the human stream poured 
out Almost simultaneously were the floodgates 
loosed at the Alhambra. Leicester Square was 
thronged. Whistles sounded, and cab after cab 
drove off. The gleam of white linen, the shine of a 
hat, and the fluttering of skirts were dominant in his 
impressions as he watched the hansoms take up their 
freight He heard laughter and swearing, and the 
hoarse cries of boys in the road. 

He saw sights that were ugly— winter and ten- 
' derest spring in prospective embraces ; and sights 
that were sad — the smarting tear of repulse; and 
he looked life in the eyes and read in them its mock- 
ery. Where was the pitying God to heal the fretting 
sore of the world ? 

The stars were so quiet up there over all. It was 
restful to turn the gaze upwards. How they must 
shine on the sea. He wished for a sight of it- 
knowing it so little, yet conscious that it would have 



ELEMENTARY JANE ^3 

power to soothe his pain. Once he had thought lane 
and he would seek it together. He thought of siray 
Tcotet^r* ' '"""^""'^ 'ancfwher^SJ 

Jane was married. What to do with his years ? 
been standing, and presently found himself in Tra- 

S^I ^2""'-. "! ^^^" ^ ''^^ °f '«''«f «"d expan- 
sion as he realized that he was quit of the crowd. 

the nortr-H ' ^T. ^ '"""' ^^"^•'' ^"'l here on 
the north side something of the turmoil of the town 

stars. The Nelson column stretched up gaunt and 
onely towards them. To Michael, alone wifh hi sor- 
row, It stood for a symbol of isolatfon 

nn"^'[^^*"''^^"^'^ *^"'' ">« stone-work below 

m the hollow of h,s arm like a child. Tears filled his 
eyes but dW not fall, and he saw through a rZ 
Jll^he wiped them away. Then once more he saw 

en!:? 'T""^^ ^^°'^ •'™ ^^^ ^ P'ai"- He was 

as othe« before him have thought of it in such mo- 
ments of frustration, and told himself death must be 

anXgett^nr- '" ''"' ^'"^-""^* """ '^^ 
'^ 1 could 1 



afraid of it. 



! found for the seeking, nor was he 



But Jane who had set his thoughts running 



on 



"74 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



death held him to life — Jane and another. Of the 
other he did not think yet. His influence was present, 
none the less. 

He Swood for a long while in contemplation of the 
thing that had happened to him. The horizon was 
dark. To plod on in the grey light alone was his 
fate, let him meet it as he would, with submission or 
set teeth. You had or you had not, nor would ever 
have. The stars ruled it so. 

He looked up at them as one who would know his 
offence, but they vouchsafed no answer. He waited 
as if for a sign,. till the glimmer of their fires, made 
steely by exceeding distance, chilled him. No sign 
was forthcoming. They gazed coldly on his suffer- 
ing. His heart was full to overflowing. 

" O God," he said in his pain, " where are you ? " 

He could have flung up his arms towards the sky. 
Instead, he let them fall to his sides. Then his fingers 
clenched themselves two or three times, while he 
took a deep and quivering breath, and held it at the 
last, to release it slowly when a moment or two had 
passed. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

It was some two hours later that he turned his steps 
towards Covent Garden. He had walked sevenil mUes 
then, and the pain at his heart, if less insistent, seemed 
deadened by custom. So might one feel with an in- 
curable disease. He was tired and wished for sleep, 
but he expected a night of torment. 

He had never before felt so solitary. All London, 
all the world, seemed in one scale, he in the other. 
The need of communion with a fellow-creature was 
urgent. He believed that if he could tell some one, 
a stranger, even, — perhaps preferably a stranger, 
— indirectly of his trouble he would find ease. He 
looked at a few of the beings who loitered still at the 
comers of the streets. He knew that amongst them 
there was to be found here and there a Magdalen 
whom suffering redeemed in all the degradation of 
her lot. He remembered De Quincey's friend of Ox- 
ford Street The girl who, to-night, moved by he 
knew not what instinct of pity, had spoken a word 
of kindness to him, might be such a one. But he saw 
none to whom he could speak. Comprehension was 
not in the faces of any he passed. 

He stopped once by a policeman and entered into 
conversation with him, in the hope of discovering 
something which might reply to his craving for sym- 
pathy ; but by chance the man was unresponsive and 



h 



' n ■ 



076 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



taciturn, and Michael turned away. His solace must 
come from within. It did not strike him yet that this 
might be God's answer and the answer of the stars. 

He walked despondently towards the hotel. A 
sleepy night porter admitted him, and he went up 
the dingy staircase where the lights burned low, and 
along a gloomy passage to his room. It was a long 
time before he began to undress. Three o'clock struck 
as he got into bed. The night passed in dreams and 
waking. There were border states between the two. 
Jane flitted through all. Twice he stretched out his 
arms to her. But he knew in his waking that she lay 
in the arms of Curley, and though the thought was 
anguish to him, yet, when he looked into his soul, 
he found that he hated Curley no longer, for Curley 
was now part of Jane. Behind this, none the less, 
was an impotent wish to force him into a knowledge 
and an appreciation of his good fortune. 

" If he does not treat her well . . .1 " he said to 
himself more than once, and gauged Curley's light- 
ness, reading him through and through. How could 
Jane love so lax and unstable a thing? yet how help 
it, for he remembered the beauty of Curley. 

" Oh," he thought, addressing the little wife, " was 
there no one to teli you the suffering you have pre- 
pared for yourself I When he leaves you . . . when 
he goes after others, without a prick of conscience 
or a thought for you, laughing — perhaps even tell- 
ing you, what will you do ? You love him, and you 'U 
love him the more ..." 



i !i 



•77 



ELEMENTARY JANE 

For Michael knew Jane, too. 
His last sleep was dreamless and resting. He woke 
towards eight and got up after a brief reflection. He 
would go back to Manchester. There was nothing to 
wait for. At first he had thought he would see Jane 
again. There was much that he would like to know. 
Never had two people, meeting after a lapse of many 
months, learned so little of each other. As a friend, 
even, he had some slight claim on her. Her husband 
could not resent the bestowal upon him of a few 
minutes of her time. Yet to what end should he see 
her? She was outside his life now as he was outsidt 
hers. They walked opposite banks of a widening 
nver. No bridges would span it. Perhaps, presently, 
they would not be able to recognize each other across 
its spreading flood. 

He would go back to Manchester. To see Jane 
again was to prolong his suffering ; moreover, if he 
saw her he could scarcely hope to conceal his state 
from her, and, looking back over the short interview 
with her outside the music-hall, he believed that, if 
she had any inkling of the truth at all, her conc^p- 
tion of it was far from complete. She need never 
know the blow she had dealt him— should never 
know. Why grieve her? 

But one thing he might do. The thought of it 

comforted him in a manner, for it gave him some- 

thmg to think of and to do. He dressed quickly and 

hurried over a meagre breakfast. Then he went out. 

It took him some time to find such a little keep- 



II 



. '1 



«78 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



sake as he would care to give her for her wedding 
present. His means kept him within certain limits 
and restricted his choice, and his good taste kept 
him from choosing what looked superficially above 
its intrinsic value. A few pounds, five at the outside, 
was the most he might allow himself to spend, and 
it was difficult to light upon anything that seemjd 
good enough at such a price. He saw at last a little 
gold brooch in the shape of a shamrock set with 
three pearls which formed the leaf, and finding to 
his satisfaction that the price of it was within the 
figure he had set himself, he bought it, and took it 
away in its little velvet-mounted case. Before he left 
London he posted it to Jane to the care of the music- 
hall at which she was performing, and wrote half a 
dozen lines to accompany it : he wished her every 
happiness, begged her to accept his belated congrat- 
ulations, and (ignoring the past) he sent a message 
of felicitation to Curley. 

The letter contained nothing to tell of his own suf- 
fering. Short as it was (or perhaps for its very short- 
ness), it cost him something to write. His eyes 
were wet when he folded and directed it. With the 
envelope he felt that he was closing a chapter in his 
life. 

The letter and the litde parcel despatched, he 
packed his things and paid his bill. It seemed but a 
few minutes since he had driven up to the hotel on 
his arrival. 

From Euston he telegraphed to Mr. Atherton to 



ELEMENTARY JANE j;, 

let him know of his return. Then, all beine done and 
s.tt.ng s,„ h« lot for some hour^. the n.ck he" hTm 

He IoTh " '°T'^^' severe and protracted. 
He looked out of the window, but took in nothing 
that he saw He tried to read, but could not concent 
tmte h,s attention nor take the meaning of words 
and phrases so tha. he read the same paragraph 
Aree times before he realized that it conveyern^c. 
Amg to him Then he abandoned the attempt, and 
gave himself up to the thoughts that tormented him 
It was m vain that he told himself time would cure 
himof hisdistemper. The moment was all absorbing, 
and prospective ease mattered little. There were 
other passengers in the compartment in which he 
was traveling, and, his mood having somewhat 

beX ' .V"'^.'' '''' ^"^ «- °f ^f'- ^hou'd 
begm to talk to him. When the train stopped for 
more than a mmute or two at a station, he got out 
and paced the platform. One of the photogilphs of 
Jane was m his pocket, but, though he loni^d fora 
sight of it, he did not look at it. When he^eached 
home, he must lock it and its fellows up out of view 
and try to forget them. A better course' would be to 
destroy them at once, but he did not expect to have 

endless The song of the wheels beat upon his brain, 
une of Jane's songs ran beside it. 

"I know and I know I '11 t,e happy with him. 
for there are n t many boys like my little boy Jim." 





;i 


f. 


1 


1 

■1 

■ J 


;i 



ato ELEMENTARY JANE 

The wheels took the words and played with them 
so that sometimes he could not get past the first 
three, but repeated incessantiy, "I know and I 
know and I know and I know"; and sometimes 
it was "my litUe boy Jim" that he could not re- 
He reached Manchester at last, and carrying his 
bag, which was light, he left the station and proceeded 
to his rooms. They looked cheerless, he thought, and 
unwelcoming. No one saw him go in. From a door 
on the opposite side of the staircase came the sound 
of a 'cello. It followed him dolefully into the mner 
room where he put down his bag. He went to the 
window and looked out. The quadrangle was de- 
serted. The smoke of the city hung low in the sky. 
All was grey. Where were the balmy breezes and 
the sun that, even here in the heart of the murky 
town, had set his pulses leaping a few days smce? 
He forgot the pain of their leaping. 

He heard a knock at his door, and roused himself. 
Mr. Atherton came in. He looked eagerly at Michael's 

fsicc 

"You've come back," he began, and broke off. 

" Tell me," he said. 

" I was too late." 

"Too late, what do you mean?" 

" A day after the fair. She was married — the day 
before yesterday." 

The notes of the 'cello in dreary maccuracy filled 
the silence that foUowed these words. Incidentally 



ELEMENTARY JANE a8i 

Michael chafed for a sound that rang true, and a clear 
sweep of the bow on the strings. 

("Sharpen- he said to himself, addressing the 
student in imagination. " Let yourself go. Don't be 
afraid of it Now, quiclcer, firmer ! Ah I ") 

The sounds were appalling. Mr. Atherton shut the 
door and subdued them somewhat, but could not 
wholly exclude them. 

"You saw her?" 

"Yes." 

" She told you ? " 

Michael bowed his head. 

"What did you do?" 

The fatile question was asked mechanically 

" There was nothing to do. There is nothing to be 
done. I came back." 

rTu^^^T"'' "'°''^ * *'^P forward, and stood 
stui. I— don't know what to say to you," he said 
m a low voice. 

Michael made no answer. He was standing near 
a table. A penholder lay upon it. He stretched his 
hand for it, and began to turn and twist it idly in his 
hngers. The desultory action was somehow signifi- 
cant of his mood. As little did there appear just then 
to do with his life. Half unconsciously he sat down 
and leant his head on one hand, watching, as if they 
were not of his own controlling, the wanton motions 
01 the other. 

Mr. Atherton looked at him silently. He saw the 
clean white parting and the reflection of the light 



M 



I >H 



383 ELEMENTARY JANE 

from the window upon the dark hair. He saw the 
firm lines of forehead and nose, and of shaven hp 
and chin, and something in these things, together 
with Michael's attitude, caused his throat to tighten 
suddenly, and he turned away unable to speak. 

The young man lookeH up at last. Mr. Atherton 
was gazing out of the window. He became conscious 
of the direction of Michael's eyes, and he turned back 
and met them. Neither spoke for a few moments. 
" So I separated you," Mr. Atherton said at last. 
Michael did not reply at once. 
" I suppose it was not to be," he said, when he saw 
that Mr. Atherton waited. "I was almost prepared 
— only one is never quite prepared for anything. 1 
could not be surprised. Fifteen months is a long 
time. Somehow," he laughed, " every one seemed to 
be telling me that in one way c another, sir, and 
every one seemed to have been married smce I left 
London." 
" Every one? Who, Michael?" 
He recounted his experiences at New Cross. 
" Mr. Cheston was married," he said in conclu- 
sion. "Mr. Sands dead, and Mrs. Sands mamed 
again. I think I almost expected to find— what I 

found." . „ ^ .. „ 

His voice trembled for the first time. He had been 
speaking with something of the bitterness of youth 
in its first disappointment. Suddenly the knowledge 
that Ja e was lost to him forever came to him as a 
thing fully realized, and he covered his eyes with his 



ELEMENTARY JANE tss 

self and his emotions made any expression of grief 

eyes had fil ed with tears at the parting with his 
master at Birmingham. Mr. Atherton had not seen 
h.m thus moved. Then he had himself been all things 
to his pupil. Now he did not know that, by an indi- 
rect complicity in that which had brought about the 
present state of matters, he might not have alienated 
lAe fnend he oved so well. Hence it was that, be- 
ing first impelled to put his arms about the bowed 
shoulders of Michael and try to comfort him as one 

I^^ .•« '" P^'"' ^^ '^''^^^d himself and stood 

aloof till a moment when the sight of his sorrow be- 
came more than he could bear. 

"Oh." he said then, going to him and bending 
over him in his compassion, but keeping his hands 
to his side, "you must believe that I am sorry In 
spite of everything, you must believe it. I would have 
done anything to help you when I knew that your 
heart was fixed, but for a long time I did n't know it 
and I was wrong in my judgements. I have been in- 
strumental in bri- .ging about what has happened, but 

L^r I - '" '^°^"^^. and you mustn't hate me 
for It I can t afford to lose you, I can't lose you. You 
aon t know what you are to me." 

M^'^lf ?f "°*'"^' ''"*• ^•t'^o"* looking up. he 
felt for Mr. Atherton's hand and held it 

thtTlV^^ ^""^"'"^ ^^ *^^^^ ^th 'ess reserve 
wan he had shown yet. 



gl4 ELEMENTARY JANE 

"You didn't know Jane," he said, "and I never 
told you. If I had . . . Why didn't II You would 
have listened." 

"Oh, Michael," Mr. Atherton said, "I am glad to 
hear you say that. I was biassed. I did n't know. If 
only I had talked it out with you I I was so anxious 
you should keep yourself free till you had looked 
about you and taken your bearings. There was some 
selfishness in my thought, for so I kept you to myself 
the longer, but it.was. not all selfishness. I thought I 
was helping you to save yourself from what would 
drag you down." 

" If you had known Jane 1 " Michael said. 

It was the refrain of their talk. 

" You will stay on." 

" As long as you will let me." 

" That would be always, Michael." 

" Where should I go? My friend is here." 

He told of the craving for human sympathy that 
had seemed like to lead him to give confidence to a 

stranger. 

« My poor Michael, how badly it went with you 1 

The talk was interspersed with sUences. There 
were things neither could say. Yet Michael having 
spoken felt comforted, and Mr. Atherton found solace 
in the comfort of Michael. 

Long after Michael slept, for he slept that night, 
Mr. Atherton lay awake thinking. 

Jane's letter came on the second morning after Mi- 
chael's return. He had watched for it eagerly— teU- 



ELEMENTARY JANE ^j, 

ing himself none the less, that it would be but a for 
mal letter of thanks. It was nothing of the sort 2l 
innocently it ooened the wound for a time 
After thanking him warmly (in childish phrases 

suchashecouldhearherusing).shewentontoCf 
«.n-;r. r.r''"''"^ •"" happiness so kindly that I 
Tun ''^'r"'"^ ^°" '^°^ •'^PPy ' ^'"- I wanted you 

wa^r«m? H"^''''""*"^""^^^^•''"*'h'" 
wasnt time and — somehow I didn't want to tM 

you either. I believe I even wanted to gltTwaJ bl 

fore you asked me. You did n't ask me mu^ i^J^J 

was glad. I did n't seem able to talk of it. I Ton' 

ir'ttaice"*H !'r'*^* '^"^ y°"™^''' ''-"^ 
I can t make what I mean any plainer and it does n't 

seem very plam, but it was so long since I had seen 

you and I wasalittle bit shy of you, too. ThebroS 

s lovety. I shaJl always keep and value it for'^r 

X ; ^•'^ "">"*« J ^^'^ '«ft you. I knew there ias 
a lot I wanted to say to you. and I was ashamed of 
havmg hurried. Curley might havewaited. forlsh^l 
have him always, and I hate to think that it had to 

Did'thTTn ' "''1*°''^ ^°" ^•'°'" ^ had married, 
cour.. r r" ^' *''" ''^' ' ^'^^ °f 'hem knew, of 

Currev «°"^K " "°"'' ^' '" *" P^P^'^ 'his we;k. 
turey says because it was all done so quickly 
Curley says I am to ask you to shake hands if you 
will, please, and not to remember that you ever had 
a disagreement. I know you once did n't like him I 
do want you to think well of him. You would if you 



386 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



I' 



knew him. You can't believe how good he is to me. 
He is quite changed. His mother says it is me. She 
and Monze have been so kind to me. I do love them 
both. Yes I am very very happy, and it is nice to 
think you will be glad. I am all the time wishing 
mother could know — like I was when I sang my 
first song at the Camberwell, and it was n't a frost. 
Perhaps she does. Did you think I had improved ? I 
would have liked to do even better if I had known 
you were there, but I always do try, because I love it, 
and perhaps I am glad I did n't know, after all. Any- 
way, I saw you afterwards, and I shall think of that. 
I think ' My boy Jim ' is a good song, don't you ? But 
I shall always like ' The Lane ' best. I have got on 
much better than I deserve. I have n't been eighteen 
months in the profession yC, and there are lots of 
girls better than me who have to wait years. Curley 's 
got on quick, too, hasn't he? Now good-bye. Some 
day you must come and see us. Please think you 
have two friends in Lambeth, for I know Curley 
would like to be a friend, too, if you '11 let him." 

She signed herself "Jane Merino," and added 
" Jenny Tandem " in brackets. 

To say that Michael read her letter many times 
would be to understate fact. He carried it about with 
him, and restlessness pursued him. Mr. Atherton 
looked on, waiting for time to do its work of healing. 
He knew of the letter's coming, and expected nothing 
less than that it should aflea its recipient in some 
such fashion. 



I f 



ELEMENTARY JANE Mj 

But after a while he began to see a change. Life 
slid back gradually into the old grooves, and Michael 
showed a zeal for work. Then he began to work 
harder than before. He had apparently no longer a 
definite object for so working, but he seemed im- 
pelled to work. Presently another change came. The 
need of expression grew urgent. . . . 

So Jane woke what slumbered in Michael, and in 
after years her poorlittie name might have been read 
through and through the score that broug.it him fame. 



ii 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

JANB in Lambeth wa» aglow with happiness. It il- 
lumined her like the halo of a saint She walked upon 
air. Ambrosia was her food, nectar her drink. Curley 
was her lord and her slave and her husband and her 
lover. She said, " Oh, Curley" in these early days 
and looked into his eyes, marvelling that he belonged 
to her ; and even Curley said, "Oh, little Jenny I " nor 
wearied of embracing her. 

He showed a taste for domesticity that deceived 
even his mother— staying at home with Jane when 
their separate engagements permitted it, or assisting 
her in her artless and ingenuous marketings. He was 
never so content as when she was with him. They 
were lodging with Mrs. Kerridge, who was reorganiz- 
ing her arrangements to suit their requirements. The 
tailor and his wife who occupied the first floor had 
been induced to vacate it, and the rooms were being 
repapered and painted, and Curley was furnishing 

them. 

Together, in these days, Curley and Jane visited 
the second-hand dealers of Vauxhall and Westmin- 
ster, Pimlico and Chelsea, with occasional joumey- 
ings further afield— to Marylebone and the Totten- 
ham Court Road. Curley, on the security of the 
comfortable salary he was receiving, had found no 
difficulty in borrowing a sum of money adequate to 



ELEMENTARY JANE .89 

the occaaion, nor in increasing it when, by misman- 
agement and an easy-going lavishness that was tern- 
peramental with him, it fell under what was required 
of it. Life was too short for bargaining. You took or 
you left 

Timid Jane heard him proudly. She stood by with 
shining eyes. How generous he was and magnifi- 
cent The world seemed broader. She had a place 
in it and a right to her place. 

She had but to wish, to receive. Sometimes she 
held back from expressing a wish. Once he divined 
such a wish. No, no, she protested, the thing was 
too dear and an ornament only. (It was an old print 
of a classical subject, and her eyes had rested upon 
it in its gold oval frame, not for its beauty alone, — 
she appreciated that incompletely, —but because one 
of the figTires, a Hermes, was like Curley.) 

The price was two guineas— too much for a whim. 
Curley insisted. Jane should have it, he said, if the 
price had been ten. 

He bought it at once. They carried it away with 
them. 

" Sure you like it, little girl ?" 

"It's lovely." 

Then she had to tell him how good he was to her, 
and he indulgently to slip his arm through hers and 
press it to his side. She was sorry when the crowded 
pavement forced him to release it 

" So you love me, little wife ?" he said as he did so. 

" Better than all the worid." 



g90 BLBMBNTARY JANK 

Thu« they talked in thew days. They were •trange 
days, and wonderful. Jane said so. 

"1 don't know that there's anything strange In 
them.' d Curley. 

Jane thought there was — strange and wonderful. 
What she meant was the marvellous thing of this 
happiness falling to her. Was it really to her— to 
Jane Smith? Not Jane Smith, litUe stupid I How 
wonderful tc be Jane Merino— to bear Curley's 
name I (It was not Curley's real name it was true, 
for he had none, and she knew it, but the question 
of parentage had not been raised at all, and he 
had been married as C Jthbert Merino.) She thought 
Merino a beautiful name, and Cuthbert a name for 
heroes. And how good it wao to be "straight" 
"Poor Nelly Chingfordl" she said under her 

breath. 

Miss Chingford, i firopos and by chance, came to 

see her that day. 

" Bless the chUd," she said, noting Jane's radiancy. 
"It's heaven, isn't »t? I've been there, though not 
p'r'aps through church doors like you. The gilt 's on 
the ginger. You wait" 

" Shut up, Nelly," said Jane, smiling, and with 
less diffidence than she would have shown in the old 
days. " My Curley 's not gilt at all, he 's gold through 
and through." 

" See the wife I 've got," said Curley. 

" Jenny 's a dove," said Miss Chingford. 

" What am I, then ?" said Curley, atwinkle. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 091 

Miss Chin^ord shook her finger at him, and took 
Jane in her arms. 

"Oh, you're wearing dove's feathers just now," 
•he jerked out between her kisses upon the littie 
bride's cheek. "My fear's for the day when you 
drop 'em." ' 

" What 's under ? " said Curiey, with the smile that 
beguiled. 

"Who knows I" said Miss Chingford. 

"You'll never change." cried Jane fervently. 
" You '11 never change, Curiey, will you ? " 

She looked at her husband intently. 

"Pinch xselly for me," said Curiey in answer, 
"pinch her as hard as you can. Try and hurt her. 
You can't She 's so tough. She 's been a good time 
In the world, and she's getting to know just a little 
too much." 

Miss Chingford with a wink said : " You 're right 
— if I know you, my gendeman. Too much, did you 
say? Well, I think so I " 

He seemed changed at all events. One or two of 
his friends had said, " Curiey married I Oh, Lor" ! " 

Nelly, alone with Jane, said, "Somehow I never 
thought it was Curiey. You remember one night 
when I drove you home from the Camberwell and 
you cried. Was it Curiey then, dear ? " 
" No, it was n't Curiey then," Jane answered slowly. 
Miss Chingford said that Jane was a strange 
one. 

"Sometimes I think so myself," said the bride. 



292 ELEMENTARY JANE 

" Everything else was a mistake. It's Curley now. 
It 'U be Curley always." 

Miss Chingford said, "That's what I fear," nor 
would she explain. "You seem to have got him, 
however," she added. 

Jane was puzzled. But Curley loved her ; she was 
sure of it What else in the world mattered ? 

Miss Chingford and Curley had a word at the 
door. It was half seriously spoken. 

"Treat her well," was the gist of it "You've a 
wife in a thousand." 
Curley knew that 

"Still, who wants your advice, dear?" he asked 
her indulgently. 

" Treat her well," was the answer. " She loves the 
ground that you walk on. That's silly and not the 
way to keep you, as she'll know when she's older. 
But she's a child, and God made her as the Devil 
made you, Master Impudence. You 're in luck. Treat 
her well." 

The counsel just then appeared needless. Mrs. 
Kerridge, speaking of Mr. Merino, said that she 
never had seen so devoted a husband. Jenny's eyes 
filled with tears, and when Mrs. Kerridge asked why, 
she could only plead happiness. She had cried, Mrs. 
Kerridge remembered, on the night of her d6but, and 
for the same reason. Strange little Jane. 

On most da;s one or another of the Merino family 
came to see her — Madame Merino, or Monze, or 
Perky, or Lena, or Fritz. Never was a mother-in-law 



ELEMENTARY JANE 393 

more welcome. Jane's heart went out to her. She 
had always liked her, and now the liking became 
real affection. Madame Merino had long talks with 
her— told her her fears and said they were modi- 
fied. 

"He's changed, and it's you. It was drink I was 
'fraid of. His father," she lowered her voice to the 
whisper of confidences, "his father (he knows as his 
father ain't Monze and he's told you)— oh, awful I 
He was my agent. He 's dead. But it 's in the blood, 
so no wonder I used to be anxious. But if he 's steady 
we need n't bother, and that 's why I am so glad he 's 
married you. You 've changed him." 

Jane had turned pale at the word. Drink was so 
dreadful. But Madame Merino declared she was anx- 
ious no longer, and Curiey was living quietly. 

"I've changed him," Jane said, as she wro.^ it to 
Michael. "I've changed him. Oh, is n't it wonder- 
ful I " 

With Monze she fell at once into filial relations, 
and Curiey went back to calling him Father. The 
day when the boy and the man had fallen out was 
forgotten. 

Lena hung on Jane's arm and her words, and asked 
questions innumerable. Perky came to Petwell Street 
and sat silent, and Fritz devoured his sister-in-law 
with round eyes. 

"Talk about happy families," said Mrs. Kerridge. 
" It 's as good as a picture-book." 

She and Madame Merino made friends. Mrs. Ker- 




^ ELEMENTARY JANE 

ridge had much to tell of Jane and Madame of Cur- 
lev They got on together prodigiously. 

Mr, Ke^dee had seen Madame Menno's per- 

' •=» U-s tbUand training," said Madame Merino^ 
.. though 1 -m stiffer than I were, and Monze puts on 

'^f^W^'ril get on." said Mrs. Kerridge. "it's 
.hat some of us must expect, and no one. to look at 
;! would take you for the mother of a ---d »an 
I'm sure. let alone a possible granmar m time, as we 

'Thr'S'e^'arne htd not been married a fort- 
niSg" matter for infinite talk. Madame Menno 
Sulas <• all according" ; from a personal point of 
S^w'she hoped so. she - - = ^ -tfrTrnt 

s:r:ror Fr;:t:r:u had kept henong 

''^%n the road we was. too. at the time-I shall 

"XlTctnce expression might have undone the 

"tedgetw; and ditches passed through Mr. Ker- 
rid^eSnnocent mind, and her surprise showed itsd 
on her ace. Madame Merino, seeing by hazard that 



ELEMENTARY JANE 2,5 

her hearer was astray, and grasping, moreover, the 
duection even of her erring, hastened to e:.plain that 
the road meant on tour. 

"Ah. I was wondering," Mrs. Kerridge exclaimed 
m enhghtenment. 

It would have been dreadful if Jane had allied her- 
self with people who had ever tramped, '^he was re 
assured at once, however, and relieved to be able to 
contmue an intimacy wi.icli such a discovery would 
have endangered. On the road! It was enough to 
alarm her. * 

" On the road with a theatrical company." Madame 
Menno explamed. " They were playing a panto, and 
It mtroduced our show, and Monze wouldn't leave 
me behmd for all I was n't performing. Yes, a baby 's 
lost time m the profession." 

Mrs. Kerridge found some suitable rejoinder. It 
led back to Curiey and Jane. 
^ To see them together, she said, made her feel young 

So in contentment and marvelling sped the early 
days of Jane's married life. She went about her work 
with limbs that were ready to dance to her heart's 
singing ; and the hours of separation, when husband 
and wife went their different ways in pursuance of 
their individual callings, were filled for one, at least 
of the two with thoughts of the other 

When Curley's first ardour cooled off, Jane was 
still too happy to observe any diminishment. Her 
happiness seemed cumulative, like heat. She had 



396 ELEMENTARY JANE 

enough stored in her to carry her on for a time, and 
two months went by in a dream. She did not see nor 
guess the instability of the thing in whiuii her well- 
being was centred. She appeared to have forgotten 
her doubts and the days when she had contrasted 
Curley with Michael. She was cheated and blinded 
by loving and the semblance of love. 

Domesticity palled upon Curley at length. He be- 
gan to wish for variety. It was inevitable. Nelly 
Chingford had known how things would fall out— 
was telling, perhaps, if not in so many words, on the 
occasion of the visit that has been recorded. Jane was 
blind as a bat, and a dear little fool, might God bless 

herl 

In her brusque way Miss Chingford could have 
lifted up her voice in prophecy. She knew Curley's 
type pretty accurately. When passion was dead, what 
would there be left? There must be souls for a union 
of souls, and Curley had only a body. Jane did not 
know that just yet, but in time she would know it, 
and then — God and Woman pity her I 

Jane, then, ignorant of what (by reason o! her choice 
and her consequent love) was before her, lived still 
in ecstasy. When Curley wanted amusing, she col- 
lected scraps of news and gcssip for him and brought 
them to him as a bird that gathers food for its young. 
She wished to wait upon him hand and foot. Gradu- 
ally he allowed her to do so, but that was an added 
joy. To sew and to mend for him, to brush his cloihes 
and to fold them, to mark his linen and dam his he se, 



ELEMENTARY JANE 397 

were delights in Uiemselves. Many a thing did she 
kiss as she touched it. Some day. who knew, there 
would be other things to do. She smiled at the 
thought and fell into reverie. Her fingers would be 
at work on tiny garments - some day. perhaps, or 
perhaps never. Meanwhile there was no onrbut 
Curley . . . 



I 



CHAPTER XXIX 

Standing one day at one of the bars of the music- 
hall at which The Three C's were performing, and 
contemplating the charms of a girl of considerable 
personal attractions who, with another only a shade 
less alluring, presided over it, Curley asked himself 
why he had married. 

The barmaid understood play with her eyelids, 
looked from under them, lowered them suddenly. 
She was twenty-five, perhaps, had black locks and 
a shade on her lip. 

Curley said, " Another Scotch, please," partiy for 
the pleasure of touching her fingers with his as she 
gave him the glass, and again as he gave her the 
money, and yet again as she gave him the change. 
She laughed in his eyes after that 

They talked intermittently. He watched her as 
she attended to customers. Now she was measuring 
brandy or whiskey, and tossing it into a tumbler 
with one hand as she put the metal stopper back into 
the decanter with the other. Now, with her head held 
a little to one side and her face unconcerned, =he was 
opening soda water. (Jane, when she did that at 
home, wore an anxious expression always to be jus- 
tified by the copious splash on the carpet if not by 
the report of the cork as it flew.) Here the bottle 



ELEMENTARY JANE „<„ 

went straight to the glass with a faint clink and 

tha sped from one thing to anotherl The empty 
bottle was scarcely slipped by them into the mvTer 
.ous receptacle under the counter before theTwere 
busy agam. They could fight, too, with wi^er or 

tlS wTf:r b™ ""^^^'^^ °* "-"^ ''''- 

son^s^sZlT'^j'^^"'"'^ "^ """^'^S compari- 
sons Strength and mdependence and generousZ,- 
portions seemed attractive just then. WatcC^hS 
woman exchanging a smile with her from tiSfto 
time as he met alook from the tail of her eye, C^ 
h.s glass m his hand and the music of the K^iMn Ws 
^. and the bustle of it about him, fell into Zgl 
He had been married six months. He was bardv 
twenty-two. and had bound himself. Why? ^ 

The best years of his life were before him 
As he stood at the bar, a man whom he knew 
came and joined him. 
"You've got to drink with me, young 'un " the 

oftT" Thrrl'.' '^'^ ?^ *^° '^' ^--"^ eath' 
I m ;.• . t something to drink to. my boy; 
1 m gomg to be married." J' ""y . 

The six months husband looked at his acquaint 
ance. and called him a fool. acquamt- 

"It's drinking to folly." he said. 

This speech came in due couree to the ears of the 
friends who had laughed on hearing the news of his 




goo ELEMENTARY JANE 

marriage, and they Uughed anew. It was as they 

expected. 

When Curiey's acquaintance was gone, he went 
back to his study of the bannaid. She had turned in 
an interval of leisure to the looking-glass at the back 
of the bar, and was arranging her hair. Her attitude 
with both hands raised to her head threw out the 
lines of her figure boldly. She met Curiey's eyes m 
the glass, and they beckoned her to him. 

He gave her a rose from his coat. 

"May you?" she said, for she knew who he was. 

" Never mind," said Curley. 

"What would — some one say?" asked she of 

the bar. 

" Never mind," said Curley. 

But something of compunction he had, and the 
thing made him angry. 

So he thought of Jane i the light of a hmdrance, 
and into his manner towards her there crept an ele- 
ment of impatience. . 

This the littie wife bore patiently, not realizmg at 
first its full import But the fact that she sought good 
reasons— a hundred— to account for it to herself, 
and to excuse it, showed that she felt it. 

Anyway, she told herself this and she told herself 
that, trying even to be persuaded that just then she 
was over-sensitive. It was true that at this time she 
wished to be blinded, perhaps. She was suffering a 
disappointment. She was not to have the little gar- 
ments to work on, after all, and could make her en- 



ELEMENTARY JANE 301 

gagements ahead. She was perfectly frank, and told 
Mr. Paton, her agent, in plain terms the fact and 
how sorry she was. In arranging her afifairs there 
was. alas, no reason to consider the future 

"I 'm dreadhilly sorry," she said. 

••We ,^n book into next year, then," he said; 
that s right, you're uncommonly lucky. Look at 
some. There 's Florry Upton (Mrs. Isaacson she is- 
you know), • resting- for the second time in less than 
two years. There's the youngest Sister Tinker, she 
ought to be -now. A reg-lar misfortune, I call it 
and such an inconvenience to an agent. You think 

nfSy "'"*'''^' **'"• ^^""° ''^'" ^ ^'^^ ^"°"&h. 

Jane did not know. Curley had said something of 
the sort himself, but she had wanted to give him a 
son. W re than ever did she wish it when the impa- 
tient note sounded. Perhaps she was disappointing 
nim 1 Thar thought was disturbing. 

Curley, in point of fact, shared Mr. Paton's opinion. 
He did not, however, give the subject much consid- 
eration at all. He wasted as a rule little time in 
thinking. 

The debt for the himiture of the new rooms was 
being paid off by monthly installments. He grumbled 
a little at that. Why had they not moved into fur- 
nished rooms? Jane had not wanted to leave Mrs 
Kemdge. Curley said one old woman was the same 
as another. Jane did not answer, but she determined 
to put by what she could of her own earnings towards 



ill 



'] 



goa ELEMENTARY JAN£ 

the sum that had stUl to be found. As it was, she 
spent most of her money indirectly on her husband. 
She would have lived on plain food, but Curley liked 
dainties. Her expenses were not inconsiderable. Still 
money came easUy and pleasantly. She undertook 
a little more work than she need otherwise have 
done, but what matter? 

Now Curley, if he was hasty at times, neither 
brooded nor sulked. The troubles which poor little 
Jane was to face were to come of her love for him. A 
wife of a type more resembling his own might, per- 
haps, have escaped suffering altogether. Curley's 
wife should have gone her own way. Nelly Chingford 
would have known how to deal with him — she or 
another of fibre as strong. Jane was tender and de- 
pendent. Having given herself to Curley, she must 
needs love him wholly. It mattered little that chance 
or fate had ordained that it was Curley who was to 
be her husband, for Jane had the nature that loves. 
She would have loved Michael as absorbingly had 
she married him. She had come near to loving him 
once — perhaps, even had loved him, but Curley had 
married her and taught love's mysteries ; so, of her 
temperament, she had to love Curiey. Therein was 
Jane's tragedy. She had built upon sand. 

The fault lay, perchance, in her choice, if a choice 

she had had. Curley, it may be said, could no more 

help being like sand than Michael like rock. The men 

were of different stuff. 

Be this as it may, the rain descended and the floods 



ELEMENTARY JANE j^j 

came ^^d began to beat upon the hou« of Jane'. 

Curley looked about him. His fancy for Jane had 
lulled him to sleep; he was waldng. ^ 

suJi'^*'*"!'*"*^''*^*' tiesand sung Freedom. They 
ventionally- Domesticity, let us say. the "dear 
«^r«ra S"" ""' "" T • ^°-f- the fire^^ 
»Zi^ » , 1 u''*' ""^ °' ^PP'*"**' and so was a 
mention o lifeboats ; Martial Ardour: forlorn ho^ 

were popular; Patriotism:to allude to the Fla™orX 
Honour of England was to bring down any r«^! 
able house. These things they sung and ma^m^ 
monumentally noble. Sentiment they sung and"S« 
sentiment, too. But they sung Freedom loud«t 

Jane herself, scarcely comprehending, had sung to 
Levuy (at least) n more than one song that had C 
wntten for her. It would not have occurred to her to 
apply the precepts of her songs to conduct at a 1 

hWe at first, but .t made people laugh, and she sup- 
posed there was n't much harm in it. She had, indeed 
become so used to hearing lax maxims and to pS 
suing her own way uprightly the while, as if guided 

sung of httie account. Why. drink was sung and 
dninkenness. No one would take the coun^l of 
dnnkmg-songs seriously. Such was Jane's view 

Jane was Jane, though, and Curiey was Curley. 
tor him. the voice of the halls (in his ears from the 



■IMI 






i,:i«ii.i 



I 



304 ELEMENTARY JANE 

cradle) had not failed of 'tnpresslon. He held a nju- 
ml laxity matter for jesting— or, maybe, no matter 
at all. Yet his irritabUity at this time was due to the 
presence of a compunction of sorts in him, and Jane 
suffered for his fidelity. The conscience of Curley, 
however, worked curiously. It gn^ted him strange 
indulgences, and absolved him in ways that were 
wonderful. The discovery that Monre was not his 
father had allowed him to leave the troupe without a 
misgiving. His emancipation from Jane was excused 
on grounds more illogical still. So flimsy, mdeed, 
was his justification, that one would have tiiought 
that he need not have troubled himself. 

Jane, as we know, received letters from unknown 
admirers, and occasional presents of flowers and bon- 
bons and fruit Curley knew it, of course. She had 
long since told him how much at first tiiey had 
harassed and frightened her. She showed tijem to 
him. and he treated tiiem Ughtiy. Of her own feehng 
she \/ould have been for sending the offerings back, 
but she had learnt tiiat as an "artist" she was ex- 
' pected to keep them, and since tiie littie c.tmond 
lizard with the ruby eyes there had reached her no- 
tiiing of such value as to cause her trepidation. 

A basket of roses, a note, and a few chance words 
let fall by Miss Alfie Le Roy, and reaching Curley 
through Jane, in whose innocent mind tiiey were 
rankling, were the indirect means of providing him 
with such a sop to his conscience as that extraordin- 
ary example of mentors required. 



ELEMENTARY JANE ^ 

Jane, all guileless as she was, knew as well as an- 
other the signs of conquest. She could single out. 
from as much of a house as she could see, such people 
as paid her the attention that in past days was called 
ogling, and a young man. who at this time dropped 
nightiy into a particular stall at the hall at which 
she was doing her ten o'clock turn, and followed her 
movements with bold eyes, had not escaped her no- 
tice. He came just before her number went up (she 
had seen him arrive), and he left, she believed, as 
soon as her songs were over. 

So when one evening a basket of roses was brought 
to her, without message or card, she was able to 
guess who had sent them. With her usual timidity 
she was doubtful whether to be pleased or alarmed 

Miss Le Roy, who happened to pass in as Jane 
was passmg out, stopped to admire tiiem, and turned 
the scale for her. What she said was : — 

"Well, you're to be pitied, I don't think I " (and 
spoke sweetiy). "What with mashes sending you 
three-guinea bouquets and a husband who don't mind 
into tile bargain, )>ou can't complain of your luck " 

" Tney 're pretty, are n't tiiey ? " said Jane, but she 
flushed instantly. She had never a retort on her 
tongue, and Miss Alfie's pleasantry was bitter, unan- 
swered. 

She went back troubled to Lambeth. The flowers 
were beautiful, but any pleasure she might have felt 
in them was poisoned. 

She and Curley for that night (and the sake of a 



306 



ELEMENTARY JANE 




bird that had been sent them) were supping at home. 
Jane came in first. She put the flowers down on a 
table near the hearth, and they filled the room with 
their scent. While she waited for her husband, she 
examined them. As she did so something white 
Ciiught her eye. A note was amongst them. She was 
about to take it out when she heard Curley's foot on 
the stairs, and a moment later he opened the door 
and strode in. It was significant of the subtle change 
that had come over their relations that she did not fly 
to his arms, but looked at him, seeking her cue from 
his face. It was passive. She ached for the kiss that 
she would not admit to herself was wittingly omitted. 
She went into elaborate reasonings to show herself 
why it had not been given. He had a cigar in his 
mouth. She had not been near the door when he 
came in. He was hungry, and wanted his supper. 
Nor would she allow herself to hear what her head 
had to tell her in answer. Her heart's peace was too 
closely at stake. 

Mrs. Kerridge herself, as well as tempestuous 
Gladys, appeared with the dishes. She announced 
that the pheasant smelt lovely, and she hoped would 
" eat tender." 

She looked at Curley for approbation as she took 
off the cover, but he made no comment, and began 
to carve in silence. 

Mrs. Kerridge shook her head as she went down- 
stairs. She, too, was beginning to be conscious of 
changes, and could admit it. 



ELEMENTARY JANE y^ 

Jane kept nothing to herself, a-d soon had told 
Curley of the present of flowers; h. gianced at them 
casually and went on with his supper. 

"There's a note amongst them," she said, "but I 
have n't looked at it yet. I believe I know who they 're 
from." ^ 

She mentioned the man in the stalls, and presently 
had related Miss Alfie Le Roy's litde bitter-sweet 
comments. To these things at the moment Curley 
paid small attention. He was occupied with his sup- 
per. The pheasant was excellent, so was the bottied 
beer he was drinking. Under the combined influences 
of the two, he relaxed somewhat and Jane's spirits 
rose. She ventured to kiss him when she brought 
him his pipe. 

They drew their chairs round to the fire. The basket 
of roses was very near Curley then, and he stretched 
out his hand and pulled it towards him. The flowers 
were exquisite, full to the core and richly fragrant. 
The note lay under the leaves. Curley came upon it 
just as Jane had done, and threw it to her. She had 
forgotten it 
"See what he says," he said. 
She opened and read it. As she took in its purport, 
a colour rose to her cheeks. 

" I wish they would n't," she said hody. " I hate 
getting these things. They 're insults." 

She was married now. People knew or should 
know it. 



She handed the letter to Curley, who read 



It. 



308 



ELEMENTARY JANE 




" To wear one of his roses to-morrow night if I 'II 
meet himl" she murmured under her breath. She 
put her palms to her cheeks. 

Curley raised his eyes from the paper, and regarded 
her contemplatively. 

"Well, you've knocked him," he said, and was 
silent for a few moments. 

A coal fell noisily from the fire into the fender, 
where it lay throwing out jets of smoke. Curley took 
the tongs absentiy and replaced it. 

" You do get some love-letters," he said then. 

Jane did not move. The flush was slowly leaving 
her face. She was wondering by what right every 
coxcomb who had a few coins to jingle in his pocket 
or to buy flowers addressed her. She saw herself as a 
thing each one thought he might buy. 

She looked at the roses. 
' " I wish I had n't touched them," she said. " I 've 
never liked getting things. I 've always felt some- 
thing was expected in return. A note like this shows 
it. It puts sense into what Alfie Le Roy said. I can't 
bear that anything can be said, however untrue it is, 
and she said something when she saw my diamond 
lizard." 

" Nonsense," said Curley. "She's jealous. It shows 
you 're successful. So you are. And perhaps she 's 
not so far wrong when she says you 're lucky. You 
get these presents and love-letters and things, don't 
you?" 

"I wish I did n't" 



ELEMENTARY JANE 309 

* But you get them." 

She sighed. 

" Yes, they come." 

" It 's because men fall in love with you — and you 
make them. You can't help it, perhaps, but you do." 

He seemed to be pressing a point. She looked at 
him for explanation. 

" So Alfie Le Roy 's quite right," he said. " There 's 
lots of husbands would cut up rough about it But I 
let you do as you like." 

He caught her grave face in his hands and shook 
her and kissed it. She was a child and a plaything. 

Jane laughed in happy response to his caress, but 
It was not wholly a moment for laughter had she 
known it. 

"You see, you can trust me," she whispered con- 
tentedly. 

He waved that aside, and, without knowing why 
she felt chilled. ^ ^' 

" I never question you," he said. " You come and 
go as you like. I leave you free as the air." 

And that was the way in which Curley said Cor- " 
ban. 



CHAPTER XXX 

Not many months later any one who had been able 
to observe Jane closely would have seen a flagging 
of her energies that was altogether unnatural to her 
age and her temperament. She was pale and inert 
She would sit for long spells unoccupied except in 
thought. At the sound of an approaching footfall, 
however, she would be alert in a moment, and Mrs. 
Kerridge, who suspected these lonely musings, rarely 
caught sight of them. 

"What does she do by herself all so quiet?" the 
good woman queried. " She used to be singing all 
da-i-. Now there 's never a sound unless it 's a note or 
two of the pianna broke ofi at once, Uke as if the 
'eart wasn't in her for music. And what does 'e 
mean by it to leave her alone ? " 

There was plenty to wonder at and to grieve over, 
too. Mr. Curley was constantly out — out by day, 
out by night, and the premonitory note or notice in 
the latter case had long since been dispensed with. 
When Jane got the first message (a pencilled line on 
a card) announcing that he might be late and not to 
wait up for him, she had been neither anxious nor 
depressed. She had waited for about an hour before 
going to bed, and then had kept vigil for perhaps 
another; but no doubt of him had assadled her. Cur- 



ELEMENTARY JANE 3„ 

ley was in and asleep when she woke, and she looked 
for h.s wakmg to tell him how much she had missed 
h»n. A terwards Jane dated things from that time 
and called u the beginning. He was delightful that 
day. and made her a present in the shape of a fan o 

events T " "^T ^"'^ '^ ''' "^'^^ '' -^^-^-n 
hLn^l '^'"' '° ''"°" '•''*' ^"•='' &'**«' ^»d he gave 
her many, were not without sinister meaning. Some- 

sionsriih? "" ' P^-"''^™^' ^^^^"""-^ -nfes- 
r:al^"''^^°°^^^-P-).--etimes unblushing 

B"t the fan was the first of them, and Jane thought : 

of^^her^^- "7^,^"-°"^' He's always thinking 
of others _ words that came to be true before long 
though not quite in the sense in which she employed 

Her disillusionment was not slow. An anonymous 

line i^i? '"'^ ^'' ^""""^y^" ^" a 

He had been out once or twice lately on that day 

of the week. Jane would not question him. The letter 

had come on a Wednesday. Three days and a half 

IhT"''. ""r"*^- "^"^ '^' ^'''"^ °" Saturday 
night he said : " I shan't be in to dinner to-morrow." 
Jane was out of suspense 

allv^^nVr "'f ^ '.". *° ^''""'^■" '^^ '^^'^ »«<=hanic- 
ally ; and Curley said. " No." 

She forced back her tears." He should not see them. 
No one should see them. 



3ia ELEMENTARY JANE 

Madame Merino and Lena came to see her, it 
chanced, the next day. 

" Curley '11 be sorry to miss you," she said, more 
than once. " I expect him in every minute. He's only 
gone to see a friend of his — I forget who he said. I 
like him to go, you know." 

"He's such a one for friends," said Madame 
Merino. 

" He 's so popular," said loyal little Jane, " and you 
can't be surprised, can you ? I do think I'm a lucky 
giri, don't you ? " 

"I don't know but what it's Curley that's lucky," 
said the young man's mother. 
Jane held that the luck was hers. 
" Look what some husbands are," she said, and 
instanced one or two. 

Jane'talked in this vein. She talked thus to Mrs. 
Kerridge as well. No one should know. But the thing 
was an effort. 

Madame Merino and Lena left that day without 
seeing Curley. 

Lena at parting commented upon his non-appear- 
ance. 

"I hope he's in no mischief, I'm sure," she said 
sagely ; " but Jenny must n't worry, must she, mother ? 
You never can tell with Curiey; you never could. 
He 'd used to stay out just like this at home, did n't 

he?" ^, . 

" He gets talkin', you know," said Madame Menno 
to Jane, ignoring her daughter; "that's what it is. 



ELEMEWARY JANE 3,3 

Well, I -m Sony not to have seen him, as you '11 tell 
him, my dear, when he comes ir You give him tS, 
much freedom, I expect." 

Jiff' *""* ^^ f "'* ^°^'^ ^"^'^y-" "^^ Lena, •• that 's 
what_Isay. He's got to be given his way,' or he '11 

Madame Merino looked at her daughter sharply. 
What do you know about what you can do and 

yo^'reTkrd? "• "*'" '"^''^^"'^^^ ^- ^'^^ ^^' 

Lena was unabashed. 

" I know Curley pretty well," she said. " He comes 
and goes as he likes. And what 's more, he never tdta 
you where he 's been." 

Jane wanted to protest that Curley told her everv- 
In!?^'K^ J^ beginning to say something of the 
sort when Madame Merino cut her short 

"Lena," she said. " is a deal too fond of the sound 

llTVr"' ^ ^'"" '°''' ^'' '™^ ^d times, 
^d well she knows. It'd be a fat sight better, I say 
.f she was to speak when she's spoken to. and then 
P r;aps sonie of us might now and again listen to her 
opinion, which we don't do when gfve unasked" 

Jane, for fear Mrs. Kerridge might waylay her 
visitors and give her own report of Curiey's ongZ 
m^^, accompanied her mother-in-law and Lena to die 

"He 'U be so vexed to have missed you," she said 
again, "and I expect him in every minute " 
She went back to her room with lagging steps. 



314 ELEMENTARY JANE 

What was Curley doing? She sat down by the fire, 
and her hands, a little thinner in the last few weeks, 
fell into her lap. 

She sat for a long time without moving, and the 
fire sunk low in the grate and the room grew dark . . . 

It was about a week after this that a young woman 
Jane passed in the street looked at her curiously. 
Something in the woman's demeanour arrested Jane's 
attention. She w&s tall and dark and weU developed, 
and had a shade on her upper lip. Simultaneously 
Jane and she turned round and looked after each 
other. Their eyes met Neither looked away at once, 
and Jane remembered the face afterwards. 

Three months later Jane met her again. This time 
the stranger stopped. 

"I know who you are, Mrs. Merino," she said, 
" but you don't know who I am." 

Jane said, " I can guess," and grew paler. 

" I want to tell you," said the young woman, " that 
it is n't me now, and that I 'm in hell — if that 's any 
satisfaction to you." 

She looked at Jane narrowly. 

" I 'm more passionate than you, perhaps." 

" Perhaps," said Jane. ^ 

" You can't be suffering as much as 1 am. You ve 
nothing to reproach yourself with. Feel my hand. 
I 'm burning. But you would n't touch it, perhaps." 

" I don't mind touching it," said Jane. 

The woman looked surprised. 



315 



BLEMBNTAKT JANE 

wl'i! T.'""'* *° ''"' "«' " "he said. 
Jane shook her head. 

"I wish I was de«d." said the woman. 

busy to notice." "* P^'^^P* ''^ ''^ '«> 

Jane had no answer ready. 
What did it matter, after all? 



3i6 ELEMENTAR\ JANE 

upon her happiness ; " but one can't have everything, 
and Curley 's never said a word. You don't know 
how good he is." 

Nor was he, indeed, unlcind. He pursued his way 
with even temper enough, ex -apt when his face wore 
the flush that Jane had learnt to know and to dread. 
Pining and hungering as she was for his love, there 
was a night when she had fled from his embraces, 
recognizing, in a look that enveloped her cruelly, the 
Curley of the incident by the hoardings. 

The flush was becoming more frequent. Jane held 
her breath sometimes and prr.yd. But the gods were 
far off. They were impotent, or indifferent, or ma- 
lignant. Jane suffered bravely. 
But she had consoling moments. 
When Curley slept beside her, she wound her arms 
round him (with care not to wake him) and took 
solace from his mere propinquity. He was so beauti- 
ful when he slept. The dawn round the edges of the 
blind, grey as the light was, could not throw ugly 
shadows about his face. Often, as she kissed his lips, 
she was able to tell herself that she was not i-nhappy 
at all ; and she looked for the sleep that gave him to 
her, thought of it by day, and pined if the night did 
not bring him to her. 
No one should know. 

Her one great fear was that he would leave her 
entirely. She knew the indifference with which he 
regarded the ties that bound him to her. She herself 
was learning to look at life more broadly. What if a 



ELEMENTARY JANE 3,7 

day came when she shouJd find henelf alone? Bv 
contrast wkh such awful case, her present c^ wm 
pa«d.se She had him to kiss in his sleep. 

„eS^. M^ ^"^ ''"PPy- '' *^* "°* ♦"•« that she felt 
neglected and wretched, and that people looked a 
her as at one to be pitied. Nothing was true^uttha 
she was the wife of the beautiful Curley Merino 
She wrote to Michael again 

ter" " inTI'l ""^"^ P'°P'" '° ''"'^ t°'' «" her let- 
ZhJ r ''°" '*'" "''« t° know how I am 

^ttmg on, at least, I think so. I am quite an old 
married woman now. Curley and me are still with 
Mrs. Kerndge We might have moved into bigger 
rooms, for both of us draw a good bit more than we 
did. but should n't like to leave Mrs. Kerridge, wJo 

IS n.ce to be with some one who cares for you, and I 
have been very lucky. I gave myself a treat Uster- 
day. It was to go and see The Three C's at the Can- 
terbury, a thing I can't often do. I had an hour "o 

of my husband even yet. I felt proud of him and 
when they clapped him, I had to sit back in he Z. 
for fear they should see how near I was to cryingYor 
happmess. Doesn't this speak well for us boVh?" 
som^'t^ i"^ "°' f ^ '"'^ ^"'■'^y •'^d '^°'"e home, 
^gs, and thick of speech, and how, as she wrote she 
bore on her shoulder a mark of strange colour She 



|i8 ILBMINTART JANB 

managed to arrange her dress so as to conceal tt. 
No one should knov- That was her cry and her 
prayer. 

A week of great happiness, however, did, indeed, 
follow this incident Curley was genuinely penitent 
and ashamed, and for seven days he devoted himself 
to Jane with a sincerity that renewed her hope. Will- 
ingly would she have paid a dearer price for so great 
a joy. 

Her tongue was loosed. 

" I did n't mind," she said. " I did n't mind — not 
one bit You did n't mean it There 's only one thing 
I ever should mind." 

"What's that?" 

"Ami to tell you?" 

"Yes." 

"If you stopped loving me." 

Curley lifted her bodily from the ground and carried 
her over to the looking-glass. There were tears in 
her eyes, but she was smiling. 

" Look at that," he said. 

"Well?" 

" Do you think I shall stop loving anything as 
pretty as that?" 

" Oh, if I could believe you I " said Jane. 

She leant back with her head on his shoulder and 
laid her cheek against his. He pressed his own to it, 
and then turned his face till his lips could reach it, 
and he kissed her before he set her down. For that 
moment, at least, he was hers. The woman who had 



ELEMENTARY JANE 3,9 

confcMed henelf in hell, and the othere, whoever they 
were and whatever their state, could not rob her of 
that nor of Curley's name. 

Michael's answer came in the midst of this period 
of happiness which was being voushsafed to her. It 
was such a letter as any friend might have written, 
and Jane, reading it, little knew how her own had 
shaken and buffeted the writer. Michael, too, could 
put on a bold front. 

But Curiey was Curley, and Jane saw him slip 
from her as before, and less gradually. The fear 
grew with her that he would leave her. She could 
bear anything, she thought, if she might kiss him in 
his sleep. 

She had refused some good offers from the country 
and Curley said, " Why ? » when she told him. 

"Oh, I don't want to leave home," she said. 
" Who 's going to look after you if I go North ? " 

"Don't bother about me," said Curiey. " I shall be 
all right And I may be going myself, a bit later on." 

Jane's heart sank. 

"Going!" 

" Depends on my partners," said Curley shortly. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

It was not very long after this that the blow fell. 
Jane had come in one day from a tedious rehearsal, 
and was feeling dispirited and weary. Oppression 
was in the air, and a sombre sky seemed to presage 
disaster. There was nothing to do for the moment, 
and she sat down by the window and looked out. 
From her place she could just see the archway where 
once she had stood with Michael. Was it there that 
she had reached the parting of the ways? She would 
not follow out this thought, but she knew dimly that 
fate had dallied with her as if in doubt whether to 
take her this way or that. She had been shown the 
patii of love and suffering ; the other path to which 
fate had seemed like to guideAer was, maybe, a path 
of love and peace. 

She fell into reverie; she may have fallen into 
semi-slumber, for her start was painful when the 
door opened suddenly and Curley came in. 

" I 've something to tell you," he said. " You won't 
like it, I 'm afraid, but when you come to think you '11 
see it 's a very good thing." 

"What is it?" Jane said. 

Then Curley, who never troubled himself to keep 
her advised of his prospective arrangements, told her 
the thing that she most feared to hear. He was go- 
ing away. As one of the Three C's he had signed 



ELEMENTARY JANE 331 

for a six months' tour in America. Jane received the 
news with a momentary suspending of her heart's 
beating. 
" Six months I " she said. 

She grew white to the lips, and the walls of the 
room approached her, and the floor appeared to 
upheave, and the ceiling to flicker like firelight 
shadows. 

She herself was booked at this period for two 
thirds of a year ahead, and if Curley went he went 
without her. 
" When do you go ? " she said at last 
" In three weeks." 

He must have known, then, for some time. 
The drab day was justified of its drabness. 
Curley said lightly that six months were gone be- 
fore you could look about you, and spoke of what 
he was to receive. The money seemed to Jane of 
small account, and the separation that was coming 
would not be measured by months. She knew in- 
stinctively that this parting would bear issue in deter- 
mining her future and his. Curley had but to leave 
her to feel himself wholly free. 
But the thing was done. She did not murmur. 
She cried sometimes when there was no one to see 
her. She would check her tears suddenly, and force 
her lips and her eyes to smile if any one she knew 
came upon her. She cried many a night while Cur- 
ley slept He slept peacefully, suffering nothing by 
reason of the coming separation. She whispered to 



^, ELEMENTARY. JANE 

him whUe he slept. teUing him aU her love and idl 

her pain. At a stir she was sUent , , ,„^ 

Madame Merino looked grave, and her Jat lace 

showed lines. . » „»,« 

" 1 wish you was going with him, my dear she 

said to Jane. "He ought to arrange as you shovUd 

go at the same time, or else give it up. I don t like 

to see young couples parted so soon." 

" Oh. he '8 right to go." said Jane. " It 's a splendid 

**^<'l'^ afraid for him. too. I tell y'." Madame Merino 
said to herself, but she did not say it to Jane. 

lane, after the first shock, had taken her line natu- 
rally, as a vessel rights herself when the wave has 
washed over her. Curiey should go happily. No one 
need guess the fear that assailed her. When people 
spoke of her prospective loneliness, she fade hght 
of it. Mrs. Kerridge gave her most trouble. All art- 
ists. Jane explained to her (when they married in the 
profession), married in the knowledge that their en- 
eaeements were liable to take them to opposite sides 
of tiie globe. America wasn't far. after aU. People 
crossed many times in a year. Managers went to look 
round, stopping sometimes no more than a fortnight. 
.. Pros" went thera gladly, and doubled their salaries. 
She laid stress, in her explanations, on the import- 
ance of the projected tour. 

" New York. Boston. Philadelphia. Chicago —they 
're going to aU those, and fancy seeing so much of 
the world. It would have been nice." she said m con- 



ELEMENTARY JANE 303 

elusion, "if I could have gone at tlie same time, but 
I wouldn't have him refuse anything on my ac- 
count." 

Mrs. Kerridge remained under certain definite im- 
pressions, nevertheless. 

" Though there 's partings in every life," she said 
encouragingly. "Look at the Atwells — apart six 
weeks in their first year when he was in 'orspital with 
his eye ; and, again, me and Kerridge — apart for a 
twelvemonth, but that was when he knocked me atiout, 
and I had to get what they call a judicious separa- 
tion. Well, in the end, it drawed us together." 

Jane hastened to change the subject. 

She went her way courageously. All she allowed 
herself to show was such sorrow as might naturally 
be expected on the part of a young wife about to be 
divided for a period from her husband. The heart- 
sickness that came of conviction and sure apprehen- 
sion she hid, as fair and brave women have hidden a 
cancer. 

These were last days, and last dajrs should be 
memorable. She sped to and from her work that she 
might be at hand if Curley by happy chance needed 
her. He came and he went as he would, Jane never 
questioning, but always grateful if he paid her a little 
attention. She went once to Battersea Park to see 
again the spot where he had waited for her. He had 
loved her then, wished for her, pleaded. She went 
once to Camberwell to view the place where he had 
first revealed himself to her, and where subsequentiy 



304 ELEMENTARY JANE 

he had shown himself changed. How was she to have 
known then the true from the seeming I She could 
not know. She had been meant to love Curley and 
loved him. 

The day for departure drew near, nearer, was here. 
It seemed but a few days since the first vague fear 
that he might leave her had come to disturb her. 
Time did not stand still. 

The good-byes began early with Monze and Perky 
and Lena and Fritz. Madame Merino and Jane were 
going down to Southampton to see the last of him. 
Nelly Chingford turned up at Waterloo, intending 
there to wish him and his colleagues godspeed, but 
Jane's expression decided her to accompany the party 
bound for Southampton. Perky ran and got a ticket 
for her, and Jane pressed her hand when she found 
her taking her place in the railway carriage. 

" It 's good of you, Nelly," she whispered. 

The going down was uneventful. There was a great 
deal of hopeful talk. America was an unconquered 
continent to Camden and Carson, as to Curley. An- 
ecdotes flew round, opinions, conjectures. Nelly was 
appealed to. She had visited the States, and had ex- 
periences to relate. Curley was ready to bet this and 
that He looked like an excited schoolboy. Nelly, 
observing Jane, kept the talk going. Jane tried to be 
of good cheer with the rest The time for sentiment 
was not yet. 

But at Southampton she plucked up courage to 
speak aside to Camden, the eldest C. 



; ELEMENTARY JANE 335 

" Oh, look after him," she said. " Look after him. 
The best husband a girl ever had . . . Bring him back 
to me. I shall be counting the days . . ." 

Nelly seized the same opportunity for a word in 
the ear of Curley. 

"You never deserved her," she said. "You never 
will, for you always were a young devil. Look here, 
when you get over there, be good to her— you know 
what I mean. I 'm not much for preaching, am 1 ? But 
just think sometimes of the little wife that 's wr't'ng 
for you at home. She 's as plucky as they make 'em. 
She never says a word— never has — but do you 
think I don't know ? " 

"There isn't much you don't, dear," said Cur- 
ley. 

The twinkle in his eye was not to be resisted, and 
Miss Chingford smiled, but she sighed, too. 

Over these last hours and minutes Jane felt the air 
of finality that was not to be mistaken. In vain every 
one talked of six months — in vain she herself and 
the others. Her widowhood was beginning. 

Nelly linked arms with her. 

" We 're just going to enjoy ourselves while he 's 
away," she said ; " ain't we, Jenny ? We 're not going 
to grieve or bother ourselves. There is n't a man liv- 
ing that 's worth it" 

"There 's Curley," said Jane, smiling through her 
tears. 

Her face was like a flower washed with dew, and 
Nelly saw and wondered how Curley could be Curley. 



J 



3a6 ELEMENTARY JANE 

Madame Merino also spoke to one of her son's 
partners on the subject of his welfare. 

" We ' ve never gone to America ourselves, as I said 
in the train," she said, by way of introduction, and 
speaking as if the Family were accustomed to receive 
and reject offers from the land of the Stars and Stripes 
yearly. " We seem to like home best But it 's a fine 
place, I 'm told, and a lot o' money in it You might 
have an eye on that boy o' mine now and again, will 
y' ? There 's a deal of drinkin' done there, I 've heard 
say, and I need n't tell you drink plays the mischief 
in our line." 

The time at Southampton sped like a fleeting 
dream. The moment of parting approached. Those 
who were staying behind had to return to London. 
Three or four persons who were about to travel back 
to town by the same train were saying good-bye to 
their friends. 

Was any one saying it to a husband or a lover 
who in a week would forget? Was any one going 
back to so lonely a home ? Jane thought of the rooms 
in Lambeth void of Curley, and she thought of her 
work. In a few ho»irs she would be singing . . . 
A few hours . . . 

Let her grasp this moment It was hers. Curley was 
beside her. " ley had not taken him yet. Let her look 
at him once more that afterwards she might remem- 
ber him. The sun loved his eyes and his hair. His skin 
was fresh and clear as her own. Oh, beautiful Curiey I 
Oh, dear and beautiful Curley, who was leaving her 1 



ELEMENTART JANE 337 

« Come back to me," she whispered. " Oh I know 
Curley, I 've always known —at least, I 've known for 
some time, but I can bear it if you come back to me " 

««,?*^ """^ ^''^•" ^"'^y whispered indulgently. 

Why do you love me so much ? " 

" Because I married you." 

That truly was the reason. 

" It would be better if you had n't" 

Jane shook her head. 

"I wouldn't change," she said. 

Something of remorse smote Curley. 

"I'm not worth it," he said; 'you'd have done 
better to marry somebody else and love him " 

"I didn't, though." Jane said. Her teare' choked 
her for a moment or two after that 

"There," Curley said, "there," as one who would 
comfort a child. " It 's only for six months." 

"You '11 come back?" 

"Of course I shall." 

"You'll come back to me. Promise me. Promise 
me." 

" I promise." 

" I'd like to say," Jane said at the last "whatever 
happens . . . whatever you 've done (Oh, Curley, you 
see I know you) . . . I shall be wanting you. Itmayn't 
be right it may show what a poor-spirited thing I 
am, but it '11 be trut. I shall be wanting you —wait- 
ing for you. That's me, Curley. It's the way I'm 
made, and I can't help it I 'd like you to know, diat 's 
all. Good-bye." 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



*!.l.vebcenabm^toyou. Wait tiU I come back. 
I'll never be again. You 'U see. _^ 

.. Never mind. You 'U come back 

He kissed her, holding her closely. They w«e 

5SJ:^dStert^---earsi.s.ood 

"?uTey whispered again. He seemed impelled to 
say what Jane wished to hear. ^^^^ 

"Jenny, whatever I do, 1 love you 
better than any one else." 

He meant it, poor Curley. 

Jane tightened her hold on hjs hand. 

l^^'llaltC V^Vven. and the last strain- 
home— to wait lor hm». 



CHAPTER XXXII 

Jane got through the evening somehow. Her heart 
was with Curley on the sea, but she controlled her 
face and her voice, and only broke down when her 
duUes were over. It did not matter then. The night 
was her own to weep out if she would. 

Nelly Chingford came round to see her early In 
the morning, and rallied her good-naturedly on the 
state of her eyelids. 

"Why, think," she said, "there's everythme to 
look forward to." 

Jane nodded, and smiled tearfully, saying, "I 
know." 

"His letters," said Nelly, "for one thing"; and 
broke off as she thought of his nature and Jane's. 
" Not," she said quickly, "that I 'd get watching the 
post, if I were you, for he mayn't have much leisure 
for writing. I hadn't, myself, in die States. There's 
always something you must be doing or seeing. But 
look forward, anyways, dear, look forward." 

"I'll try to," said Jane. 

She did, and set her eyes resolutely on the hiture. 
But she watched the post, despite Nelly's advice, and 
letters from Curley came sparsely. 

" He's so busy," she said to Mrs. Kerridge, "and 
he never liked writing." 



ii 



330 ELEMENTARY JANE 

"You're busy, too," Mrs. Kerridge ventured to 
say, "and you write reg'lar, I know." 

" Oh, I 'm different," said Jane. " I "m a woman. It 
comes natural to a woman to write." 

Mrs. Kerridge shook her head. She may have had 
views of her own upon Curley's comparative silence. 
She did not insist on expressing them. 
She smoothed out her apron. 
" Ah, well," she swd, " no news is good news, they 
say. and his time'll be up before long, and that 's one 
good job. But I wish we could get a bit of colour in 
y'r cheeks, dear, against he does come back." 
Jane protested that her paleness was normal. 
" I never had a high colour," she said gravely. 
"Still there's mediums," said Mrs. Kerridge. 
Jane took more exercise after that It should not 
be thought she was pining. Her looks reflected on 
Curley. She rose early to walk on the Embankment 
where the air of the river was fresh and blew strongly. 
Almost she could fancy it blew up from the sea, and 
she inhaled it deeply, and went to the glass when she 
came in. She was glad when the wind was sharp, and 
made her cheeks tingle. She rubbed them sometimes 
with her hands. 

Four months passed, and five. The time was speed- 
ing. But a sixth of it remained. Jane's expression 
grew eager. Would Curley come back, after all I Oh, 
if he did I His last words had . .en to tell her he loved 
her. Had her misgivings been needless? Oh, if it 
could but be so ! Let her tiiink of her luck. Luck had 



ELEMENTARY JANE 33, 

Mowed her surely. To few was success mnted so 
•oon. Perhaps, indeed, he would come back as he 
had promised. 

Suspense for a space was her position. 

Madame Merino came to her for news. Jane had 
none to give, and reluctantly said so 

" ^ ''0P« •>« •» kep- steady." said Madame Merino. 
He don t trouble me much with letters — me. nor 
yet you." 

"Oh, there 've been a good many," said Jane, 

when you come to count up." 

She changed the subject, asking for Lena, who had 
sprataed her foot and was taking an enforced rest 

She 11 be about again in a day or two, I 'm not 
worrym' about her. I made rure you 'd have had a 
letter— or maybe I didn't But why can't the bov 
write ? " ' 

Madame Merino spoke crossly, and Jane knew she 
was anxious. 

Jane grew pale again. It was against hope that 
she was hoping, and knew it while she combated the 
knowledge. 

A line on a postcard came then. Curley wrote to 
say that, perhaps, he might not be home quite as soon 
as he had expected. 

"He's not coming," said Madame Merino when 
she heard of it " I know his • Perhapses.' " 

But Jane did not join in condemning him. 

So Camden and Carson came back without him — 
came back shaking their heads. The tale was soon 



331 ILEMBNTARY JANE 

told. He had Mt u loosely to them u to the old 
Merino Family ("or to nw," thought Jane in her 
heart, "or to me")— and had joined an American 
troupe. 

His late partnen wished them joy of him. 

" Why, it's not safe," Camden said darkly. "You 
never know that he mayn't let you slip. One night 
at 'Frisco he nearly killed himself. As near as no 
matter. I never saw such a save." 

There were other tales to tell, and some of them 
reached Jane, and she forced back her tears as before. 
He wrote more and more seldom, and meagrely. He 
had bettered himself, so much he vouchsafed to her, 
and twice sent her money which she laid by for him. 
She might have gone in search of him after a time, 
but— she knew that he was not alone. Had she not 
known, when she bade him good-bye, that the separ- 
ation would not be measured by months ? 

She stayed, and she wtdted, and worked. She 
earned a good deal. As time went on, there were^ 
those who supposed she was stingy. 

She was saving — for Curley. 
She fought biavely against odds that grew heavier. 
Even Madame Merino blamed him. Jane championed 

him stoutly. 

One great solace had Jane. Michael came to Lon- 
don. He had written his opera (Jane did not know 
of her share in it), and she talked to him of Curley 
as to a dear friend ; and he (while he listened to her 
steadfast defence of him) guessed the truth, but knew 



ELEMENTARY JANE 333 

It not fully till one day when he met Nelly Ching- 
ford. Something^ in her face made him trust her. He 
had heard Jane spealc of her kindness. 

" You are a friend of hers 7 " he said. 

" The best friend she 's got —or perhaps she 's the 
best Mend that I have. It's the same thing." 

" I'm a friend, too." 

" I seem to remember your face." 

He told her his name. " I was once in the orchestra 
at the Camberwell," he added. 

" You," she said, "you I" 

" I 've rehearsed with you," Michael said. " I was 
utility then, and the drum was my instrument" 

Nelly said, " Bless me 1 " 

"Why, you once gave Curley Merino a thrash- 
ing," she cried, searching her memory. 

Michael did not want to remember this, but he 
wanted to knc / about Jane. 

" It began soon after they married," she told him. 
"Curiey wasn't bound long. He's as light as they 
make 'em — always was, from a boy, and the pret- 
tiest boy that I ever set eyes on. She worshipped 
him — worships him still. Sometimes I wonder, and 
sometimes I don't Every one has to like Curley. 
Poor Curley, they say he drinks, too." 

" Poor Jane," Michael said under his breath. 

"Yes, poor little Jane. She never says a word. 
She won't hear a thing against him. She 'd rather 
die than allow that he treated her badly. Did you 
know her well?" 



334 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



"Yes — that is, no, not very, perhaps." 

In his innermost heart he was thinking that he had 
known Jane through and through, from the first 

" She 's a strange litde thing," pursued Miss Ching- 
ford. " I never noticed that she was particularly taken 
with Curley before she married him. Once she half 
owned that there had been somebody else." 

Michael's face did not change. 

" From the day of her marriage, however, Curley 
was the one person in the world. Some women are 
like that, Mr. Seaward, — pVaps a good many of us, 
— the first one we love that makes loves to us, who- 
ever he is, — and most of us set our happiness on 
something that won't support it. Jenny has, and 
won't own it She '11 wait and she '11 work and she '11 
love to the end." 



So Michael knew, too, though he heard Jane's de- 
fence of her husband. The seasons came and went, 
and Jane lived deserted. It was others who were 
angry, not she. It was Madame Merino who made 
scenes, and wept 

That roused litde Jane. 

" Oh," she said, " don't you understand 7 I 'm ready 
this minute to take him back if he comes to me, but 
he must come when he 's ready. I! he does n't love 
me, you can't make him. I can't, no one can. It 's 
no good reproaching a {>erson for ceasing to love 
you. If he loves me, some day he'll come back — 
and he will. I know that, so I 'm waiting." 



ELEMENTARY JANE 335 

" It's a shame," Madame Merino said, "a shame I 
and he ought to be punished." 

But of punishment Jane would not hear. 

" Well, I 'm speaking for you," said his mother. 
" It 's you as the burden of all his wickedness falls 
on. I 'm ashamed of him, that 's what I am. When I 
think of what your life might be and -^vhat it is . . , 
and my son, too 1 " 

" Don't fret about me," said Jane, more gently. 
" I shall be the gladder when he does come back, 
that's aU." 

" I can't make you out," said her modier-in-law. 

Nor was Jane wholly unhappy. A certain calm had 
settled down upon her life. With Curley no longer 
beside her to show his aloofness, the pain it occa- 
sioned her became less insistent. Gradually her rest- 
lessness had subsided. A mention of his name could 
awake it ; a paragraph in a paper chronicling his 
doings set her aching ; for the most part, however, 
she did not suffer acutely. She had patience, and 
faith in some ultimate good. Her patience did not 
diminish, and her iaith was not shaken. Curley would 
somehow come back in the end. So she kept to her- 
self, and came and went quietly to and from " Lon- 
don " and Lambeth, a soberly clad little figure with 
a pale face and shining hair. She had memories, and 
an aim in her work. She was putting by money. 

Michael was permanently in London now. She saw 
him often, and he spent many a happy hour in her 
company. Sometimes he played to her, sometimes 



336 ELEMENTARY JANE 

they talked merely. There was no one to make 
scandal, nor, had Uiere been, would she have cared. 
She was waiting for Curley, he knew, and he had 
schooled himself to endurance. 

So passed three years. Then it became known that 
the American troupe to which Curley had allied him- 
self projected a visit to London. 

Jane heard the news, and her colour came and 
went For a while she was like one in a fever. Some- 
times she put her hands to her heart as if she would 
calm its tumultuous beating. All her pain was re- 
newed. She saw the day for his advent approach 
with an apprehension that was grievous. She did 
not believe that he was coming back to her yet 
He had not written at this time for more than a 
year. 

The Merinos, it chanced, to her unspeakable relief, 
had started on a long tour in the provinces, and she 
would be spared Madame Merino's well-meant inter- 
vention. No one should intervene. There should be 
no reproaches nor pleadings. The situation would 
be her own to deal with as she saw fit and Jane had 
taken her line definitely. Curley, if he wanted her, 
would know where to find her . . . 

Then, to evade, as far as might be, the questions 
and comments of her fellow-artists, however kindly 
intentioned, she kept to herself more closely even 
than before, and so arranged her comings and goings 
that the least possible time was spent by her at the 
music-halls where she was singing. She left home 



ELEMENTARY JANE 337 

only at the hours at which her work obliged her to 
do so, and bade Mrs. Kerridge deny her to any one 
who came to see her. 

Two people guessed at her suffering, and respected 
her reticence. 

The day came nearer; was reached ; and Curley, 
she knew, was in London. 

Jane's face wore the look of a thing that is hunted. 
Then Nelly Chingford spoke. The Americans had 
arrived the day before for rehearsals. She had heard 
that, for she was singing, it chanced, at the music- 
hall at which they were to appear that evening, and 
she came round to Jane. 

"Shall I say anything to him?" she asked. "I 
shall see him to-night" 

Jane's lips moved. 

" See him to-night I " she was saying, " see him to- 
night I " as perhaps the dying thief on the cross may 
have repeated — " This day ... in Paradise . . ." 

She clung suddenly to Nelly, sobbing. 

" Oh, Nelly 1 " she said. " Oh, Nelly I " 

Nelly Chingford strained her to her bosom. 

"My darling," she whispered, "my darling. I 
know— I know. It oughtn't to have been CuWey, 
my precious, but it 's not much use saying that now. 
Don't fret, little giri, we all love you." 

"How long does he stay?" Jane asked, when she 
could speak. 

"A fortnight." 

Jane pressed her hands to her mouth and eyes. 



338 ELEMENTARY JANE 

"You did know?" she said. "I've told no one— 
never! Oh, NeUy, how shaU I bear it?" 

She sobbed for some moments. Nelly held her 
closer. 

" Let me speak to him." 

Jane shook her head. 

" No," she said, and " No " and " No," and exacted 
a promise. 

" It'd be worse for me if I knew," she said, " don t 
you see that?" 

Nelly did not abuse him. She understood too weU. 

She stroked the soft hair. 

"You've promised," said Jane after a time. 

"Yes," said Nelly, " I 've promised." 

She went her way. 

Perhaps had Curley been alone, she would not have 
felt bound to keep her vow to the letter. But Curley 
was not alone ; and she knew, when she saw him, 
how useless such speaking would be. He avoided 
her, and he did not join Jane. 



CHAPTER XXXIU 



Time went on. 

Jane's keenest suffering was over. The fortnight 
that saw Curley back in the same town with her had 
held it Then had her nights and days been tortured. 
She and he did not meet face to face, but she caught 
a glimpse of him once in the street, and that night 
paced London, seeking escape from her anguish as 
Michael in like case had sought it. 

But, presently, when she knew that her husband 
had gone with the troupe to the Continent, her pain 
abated. It was then that Elementary Jane, a develop- 
ing Jane by this time, looking into her heart learnt a 
thing that was true. Why was she able to live calmly 
when Curley was quite away from her, and when the 
chance of meeting him did not exist 7 Then she was 
free from her torment, and could look back and look 
forward . . . 

Inevitable that she should learn from such signs. 

" My Curley . . ." she said "My Curley . . ." 

She sought no longer to deceive others. Every one 
knew that Curley had not come back to her. (But no 
one must blame him.) The time was past for deceiv- 
ing — past, even, perhaps, for deceiving herself. Cur- 
ley and she had been wedded in body ; their souls 
had not met. 

She saw with clearer eyes — saw into the meaning 



340 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



of things that once would have seemed to be mean- 
ingless. It was a Jane on a plane that was higher who 
waited for Curley, knowing his limits, than the Jane 
who had fought with him once by the hoardings. 
Life had expanded her outlook, and sharpened the 
look she turned inwards. 

She judged not at all. 

While her thoughts were engaged on the lessons 
experience had for her, there came to her the news 
that the Americans were about to pay a return visit 
to London. Her fever, she felt, would be renewed, 
and she set herself to face or to circumvent it 

She would have more control over herself, while 
this visit lasted, than before. Upon so much she de- 
termined ; and that she might be less susceptible to 
the nervous apprehension that had walked beside her 
like a haunting spectre during the former sojourn of 
the American troupe in London, she did not seek to 
find out the exact dates of their approaching stay, 
but managed, indeed, to elude a knowledge of them. 

The Merino Family were still away. Mrs. Kerridge 
was not a reader of papers, and Jane banished the 
" press " from her rooms. 

So it happened that Curley and his colleagues ar- 
rived in London without her definite knowledge. She 
knew they were expected, but knew not precisely 
when, and she herself at this period was singing at 
two of the outlying halls. It was conceivable, she told 
herself, that (by closing her eyes and her ears) she 
might one day wake to find they had come and gone. 



ELEMENTARY JANE 341 

In this way she would be spared something of her 
distress. 

The Americans had made a very favourable im- 
pression before, and a full house assembled to greet 
them. Their engagement, of course, was "exclusive." 
Nelly Chingford, back that day from a fortnight's 
rest and sea-air, and unable to keep away from a 
music-hall, looked in with Mr. Goldstein in the course 
of the evening to see their performance. 

A box was put at her disposal, and in it, with Mr. 
Goldstein behind the curtain, she sat, Kgrande dame 
in her way, and looked about her, recognizing and 
recognized. People came now and then to exchange 
greetings with her. She gave news of Brighton, and 
mentioned an artist or two she had met. 

She criticized freely. 

The acrobats' number went up. 

" Now for Master Curley," she said, and sighed, 
thinking of Jane. 

A round of applause greeted the troupe. 

She singled out Curley. 

" Was there ever a prettier figure ? " she asked, indi- 
cating him with her fan and a " Two from the right" 

Mr. Goldstein had heard of him. 

" And I must n't tell her that I 've seen him," said 
Nelly. She told him of poor Jane's intended attempt 
to avoid knowing her husband was in London. " It 
upsets her so," she added in explanation. 

Curley had filled out considerably, but was shapely 
as ever. Nelly looked at him, and had knowledge 



343 ELEMENTARY JANE 

afresh of what Jane must suffer. She fell into reverie, 
following mechanically with her eyes the rhythmic 
movements of the troupe. Love was a plague and a 
furnace, she thought, and happiest those who kept out 
of it Poor little Jane 1 She was recalled to more defi- 
nite attention by an exclamation from Mr. Goldstein. 

" What is it, Charlie ? " she said. 

" Look at him," he said sharply. 

AH was not well down below. What was wrong? 
There seemed to be a suppressed excitement in the 
air, and something of uneasiness. She looked at 
Curley. The rest of the troupe were eyeing him from 
time to time. One was seen to whisper to him. 

"Half an inch — less, an eighth, and he'd have 
missed his hold," said Mr. Goldstein. 

Nelly Chingford put up her opera-glass. 

Curley, in truth, was moving unsteadily. 

A voice called out, " Shame 1 " and another, " He '» 
drunk," and a few people hissed. 

Curley pulled himself together at once, and faced 
the house defiantly. 

There was a momentary pause, but the troupe had 
its name to maintain, and the performance proceeded, 
more brilliantiy, perhaps, for the misgiving of each 
that took part in it 

"Good Lordl" Nelly Chingford said, half under 
her breath. " They said so, Camden and Carson did. 
Why don't they stop him? Silly fools I He's never 
going to climb that . . ." 

She broke off. The members of the troupe were 



ELEMENTARY JANE 



343 



forming a pyramid. A nervous tremor passed over 
her as Curley, with set teeth, swung himself up to a 
place in it A child should have followed — a little 
girl — but, as she advanced, again the ominous sibi- 
lant sound was heard through the house, and in ob- 
vious reluctance she hesitated. Curley looked round 
like a young god in anger, and then looking down 
peremptorily, he held out his hands for the child to 
climb up to him. The human tower rocked as he 
moved. He swayed of a sudden, failed to right him- 
self, and fell heavily. 

There was a spasmodic cry from the front The 
curtain was lowered. 



It was Nelly Chmgford who sought Jane. He had 
pushed the Other from him, whoever she was, and 
had asked for hb wife. The fall sobered him, but his 
injury was mortal. 

They took him to Litde Petwell Street when his 
case was pronounced hof>eless. Jane watched by his 
bed day and night The husband and wife had long 
talks. Once Jane spoke of the Other, asking if he 
would like to see her. 

But he shook his head. 

" Only you . . . loved me," he said. 

His mother came up from Portsmouth. She for- 
bore to reproach him. The time for reproaches was 
past, with the time for deceiving. 

Jane was Curley's thought, and Jane and Jane. He 
knew how she had loved and waited. 



^' BLBMENTARY JANE 

"What'i better, my darling?" 

Better like thia." 
"Oh, Curley, my beautiful." 



THE END 



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